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Article Signed " Vindex," January 8th ... I 

Power of Governor over sessions of General Assembly. 

Artfcle Signed " Determinatus," January 8th . . 4 

Non-importation agreement. 

To the Lieutenant-Goyernor of Massachusetts, March 

I 9 th . . 7 

Memorial of town of Boston Appointment of special 

To John Hancock, May nth 9 

Proposed resignation. 

To Benjamin Frapklin, July I3th 10 

Letter of town of Boston Effect of massacre narrative 
Influences upon public opinion "Case" of Captain Preston. 

To the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, Au 
gust 3d . .19 

Answer of House of Representatives Place of meeting of 
General Assembly Legal opinions Precedents Royal in 
structions Nature of Province Charter Rights of House. 

Article Signed "A Chatterer," August I3th . . 35 

Royal instructions. 

Article Signed f "A Chatterer," August 2Oth . . 39 

Character of office holders. 

Article Signed "A Chatterer," August 27th . . 43 

Reply to " Probus " Character of lieutenant-governor. 

To Benjamin Franklin, November 6th ... 46 

Letter of House of Representatives Appointment as agent 
Attitude of administration to Massachusetts Royal instruc 
tions Admiralty jurisdiction Salaries and appointments. 



To Stephen Sayre, November i6th ; ... 56 

Letters of " Junius Americanus" Non-importation agree 
ment Trial of Preston Royal instructions. 

To the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, No 
vember 2oth 61 

Memorial of House of Representatives Vacancies in militia. 

Article Signed "A Tory," November 2oth . . 62 

Effects of present administration. 

To Peter Timothy, November 2 ist .... 64 

Reply to Charleston committee Non-importation agree 

To Stephen Sayre, November 23d . . . 66 

Choice of agent Royal instructions Attitude of Hutchinson. 

To Josiah Williams, November 23d .... 69 

Personal advice. 

Article Signed "A Chatterer," December 3d . . 70 

Royal instructions Control of x troops Custody of Castle 

Article Signed " Vindex;" December loth ... 77 

Trials of Preston and soldiers Discussion of testimony. 

Article Signed "Vindex," December i7th . . 83 

Trials of Preston and soldiers Discussion of testimony. 

Article Signed " Vindex," December 24th ... 89 

Trials of Preston and soldiers Discussion of testimony. 

Article Signed " Vindex," December 24th . . 98 

Reply to " Somebody "Trial of soldiers. 

To John Wilkes, December 28th . . . . 100 

Introduction of William Palfrey Conditions in colonies. 

Article Signed "Vindex," December 3 . . . 102 

Action of Boston on massacre Attitude of troops Events 
of March 5, 1770 Testimony upon trial The dead. 

Article Signed "Vindex," December 3 ist . . . 122 

Testimony upon trial of soldiers. 




Article Signed " Vindex," January 7bh . . . 124 . 

Trial of soldiers Discussion of testimony. 

To Stephen Say re, January j 2th . . . .134 

Enclosing articles on trials. 

Article Signed " Vindex," January I4th . . 135 

Discussion of testimony " Case " of Captain Preston. 

Article Signed "Vindex," January 2 1st . . .142 

Result of trial of soldiers Discussion of testimony Reply 
to Philanthrop. 

Article Signed " Vindex," January 2.8th . . . 153 

Discussion of testimony " Case" of Captain Preston. 

To Charles Lucas, March. 1 2th 163 

Acknowledgments of Boston. 

To Arthur-Lee, April iQth 164 

Beginning of correspondence General conditions Designs 
of Administration Royal instructions. 

To the Governor , of Massachusetts, April 24th . . 168 

Answer of House of Representatives Action of Spain at 
Port Egmont Attitude of Administration Place of meeting of 
General Assembly Appointment of Governor. 

To the Governor of Massachusetts, April 25th . . 171 

Salary bills. 

Article Signed " Candidas, " June i oth . . . 172 

Place of meeting of General Assembly Royal instructions 
Attitude of Hutchinson. 

Article Signed "Candidus^" June 1 7th . . . 176 

Address of clergy. 

To Benjamin Franklin, June 2Qth . . . .177 

Letter of House of Representatives Right of Parliament to 
tax Revenue and tribute Independence of officers Rights of 
colonists Position of colonial agent. 

Article Signed " Candidas," July 1st . . . . 186 

Convention of clergy. 




To Arthur Lee, July 3 ist 189 

Conditions in London Effects of faction and of arbitrary 
power Attitude of Hutchinson Disturbances in North 

Article Signed " Candidus," August 5th . . . 193 

Address of clergy Character of convention. 

Article Signed " Candidus," August I9th . . . 198 

Custom of " addressing " Public opinion of Administration 
Stamp Act Events in 1768 Character of addresses. 

Article Signed " Candidus," September 9th . . 204 

Assertion of rights by colonists Factions Revenue acts. 

Article Signed " Candidus," September i6th . . 212 

Circular letter of February, 1768 The mandate to rescind 
Letter to Hillsborough of June, 1768 Refusal to rescind. 

Article Signed "Candidus," September 23d . . 222 

Dissolution of General Assembly Charter rights of General 
Assembly Royal instructions. 

To Arthur Lee, September 2/th .... 230 

Remonstrance of London Despotism in Massachusetts 
Cause of colonial grievances Possibility of impeachment Op 
position to an American episcopate Introduction of William 

Article Signed " Candidus," September 3oth . . 237 

Letters of Bernard Disorders in 1768 Letters of commis 

To Arthur Lee, October 2d . 245 

Comments on William Story. 

Article Signed " Candidus/V October /th . . . 246 

Salary of Governor Attitude of Hutchinson. 

* Article Signed "Candidus," October I4th . . . 250 

Historic instances of slavery and tyranny Comparison of 
America and Rome Liberties of America. 

Article Signed " Valerius Poplicola," October 28th . 256 

Acts of trade Subjection and allegiance Legislative power 
in Massachusetts Jurisdiction of Parliament. 



To Arthur Lee, October $ist 264 

Action of Council on "Junius Americanus" Relationship 
of office holders Attitude of House of RepresentativesThe 
" Hue and Cry." 

To Joseph Allen, November ^th .... 268 

Personal advice. 
Article Signed " Candidus," November nth . . 268 

Jeroboam as a Governor Attitude of the clergy. 

To Arthur Lee, November i^th .... 274 

Proclamation by the Governor Its reception by the clergy. 

Article Signed " Cotton Mather," November 25th . 276 

Salary of Governor Provisions of the charter. 

Article Signed "Candidus," December 2d . . . 281 

Attitude of the people Reply to "Chronus" Royal in 

Article Signed " Candidus," December Qth . . 287 

Jealousy of liberty Control of revenue Powers of Governor. 

Article Signed " Candidus," December i6th . . 293 

Reply to " Chronus." 

Memorandum, December i8th ..... 296 

Alleged criticism of Harrcock. 

Article Signed " Candidus," December 23d . . 297 

Effect of petitioning Control of funds Infringement of 


To Henry Marchant, January 7th .... 306 

Election in London Activity of government agents Policy 
of Crown officers. 

To Arthur Lee, January I4th 310 

Attitude of Government. 

Article Signed " Candidus," January 2Oth . . . 313 

Acts of trade Power of taxation Colonial right of legis 
lation Extent of " Dominion." 

Article Signed " Candidus," January 27th . . . 322 

Acts of trade Magna Charta. 



To the Governor of Massachusetts, April loth . . 327 

Answer of House of Representatives Place of meeting of 
General Assembly Power of Governor over sessions. 

Article Signed "Vindex," Aprilt2Oth . . . 329 

Reply to " Philanthrop Jun." 

To the Governor of Massachusetts, July I4th . . 331 

Answer of House of Representatives Repair of Province 

> Article Signed " Valerius Poplicola," October 5th . 332 

Tribute Effect of petitions Freemen or slaves? 

To Andrew Elton Wells, October 2ist . . . 337 

Family affairs Royal power over colonial government. 

To Elbridge Gerry, October 27th .... 339 

Independence of judges. 

To Elbridge Gerry, October 29th .... 340 

Independence of judges Action of Boston. 

To Arthur Lee, November 3d 342 

Retirement of Hillsborough Character of Dartmouth In 
dependence of judges Action of Boston. 

To Elbridge Gerry, November 5th . . . 346 

Concert of action Action of Boston Independence of 

To Elbridge Gerry, November I4th .... 348 

Activity in Marblehead Rights as Christians Attitude of 
Roxbury and Plymouth. 

The Rights of the Colonists as Men, as Christians, and 

as Subjects, November 2Oth 350 

A List of Violations of Rights, November 2Oth . 359 
A Letter of Correspondence, November 2oth . . 369 
Article Signed " Vindex," November 30th . . 374 

To Aaron Davis Character of Doctor Young. 

To Arthur Lee, November 3 ist 379 

Proceedings of Boston Activity of public enemies Action 
of Roxbury and Plymouth. 


To Elbridge Gerry, December 7th .... 380 


To William Checkley, December I4th . . . 380 

Personal reflections. 

Article Signed " Candidas," December I4th . . 382 

Criticism of Draper s Gazette Proceedings of Boston. 

To Elbridge Gerry, December 23d .... 387 

Proceedings of Marblehead. 

To Darius Sessions, December 28th .... 389 

Response to request for advice The Rhode Island commis 
sion Effect on judiciary system. 

To the Committee of Correspondence of Cambridge, 

December 2Qth ....... 392 

Acknowledgment of Boston committee for their endorsement. 

To the Committee of Correspondence of Plymouth, 

December 29th 394 

Acknowledgment of Boston committee for their endorsement 
Character of early settlers. 


To Darius Sessions, January 2d .... 395 

The issue in Rhode Island Advice to the colony Probabil 
ities considered. 

To the Governor of Massachusetts, January 26th . 401 

Answer of the House of Representatives Jurisdiction of 
Parliament Colonial charters Rights of colonists Histori 
cal precedents. 

To the Committee of Correspondence of Lynn, 

February 9th 426 

Acknowledgment of Boston committee Diffusion of 

To Darius Sessions, February . . . . . 427 

Further advice upon political situation. 


, , 

To the Governor of Massachusetts, February I2th . 428 

Message of the House of Representatives Independence of 
judges Attitude of Governor. 

To John Adams . 430 

On reply to Governor. x 

To the Governor of Massachusetts, March 2d . . 431 

Answer of House of Representatives Proceedings of Boston 
Rights of King in colonies Jurisdiction of Parliament 
Historical precedents. 




[Boston Gazette, January 8, 1770.] 

" AND the Governor for the time being shall have 
full power and authority from time to time as he shall 
judge necessary, to adjourn, prorogue and dissolve all 
Great and General Courts or Assemblies met and 
conven d as aforesaid." 1 

THE power delegated by this clause to the Governor 
was undoubtedly intended in favor of the people The 
necessity and importance of a legislative in being, and 
of its having the opportunity of exerting itself upon 
all proper occasions, must be obvious to a man of 
common discernment. Its grand object is the RE 
DRESS of GRIEVANCES : And for this purpose it is ad- 
judg d that parliaments ought to be held frequently 
The people may be aggriev d for the want of having 
a good law made, as well as repealing a bad one : So 
they may be, by the mal conduct of the executive 
in its manner of administring justice wrongfully 
under colour of law. In all these cases and many 

1 B. P. Poore, The Federal and State Constitittions , 1878, vol. i., p. 949. 

VOL. II. I. 



others, the necessity of the frequent interposition of 
the legislative evidently appears. And if either of 
them, much more, if all of them should at any time 
be justly complain d of by the people, the adjourning, 
proroguing or dissolving the legislative, at such a 
juncture, must be the greatest of all grievances- 
There may be other reasons for the sitting of an 
American assembly besides the correcting any dis 
orders arising from among the people within its own 
jurisdiction. Some of the Acts of the British parlia 
ment are generally thought to be grievous in their 
operation, and dangerous in their consequences to 
the liberties of the American subjects : An American 
legislative therefore, in which the whole body of the 
people is represented, ought certainly to have the 
opportunity of explaining and remonstrating their 
grievances to the British parliament, and the full ex 
ercise of that invaluable and uncontroulable Right of 
the subject to petition the King, as often as they 

/^judge necessary, till they are removed. To post- 
J pone a meeting of this universal body of the people 
till it is too late to make such application must be 
a frustration of one grand design of its existance ; 

\ and it naturally tends to other arbitrary exertions. I 
\ have often tho t that in former administrations such 
delays to call the general assembly, were intended 
for the purpose above-mentioned : And if others 
should have the same apprehension at present I can 
not help it, nor am I answerable for it. It may not 
be amiss however for every man to make it a subject 
of his contemplation. We all remember that no 
longer ago than the last year, the extraordinary dis- 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 3 

solution by Governor Bernard, in which he declared 
he was merely ministerial, produced another assembly, 
which tho legal in all its proceedings, awaked an 
attention in the very soul of the British empire. 

It is not to be expected that in ordinary times, 
much less at such an important period as this is, any 
man, tho endowed with the wisdom of Solomon, at 
the distance of three thousand miles, can be an ade 
quate judge of the expediency of proroguing, and in 
effect even putting an end to an American legislative 
assembly ; and more especially at a time when the 
evil spirit of Misrepresentation is become so atrocious, 
that even M. . .y itself is liable to be wrongly 
informed ! It is for this reason that the delegation of 
this power to the governor for the time being, appears 
to be intended in favor of the people : That there 
might be always at the head of the province, and 
resident therein, as the charter provides, a person of 
untainted integrity, candor, impartiality and wisdom, 
to judge of and determine so essential a point A 
point, in which I should think, no person who justly 
deserves this character, can be passive or merely 
ministerial, against his own judgment and conscience. 
Whenever therefore a Governor for the time being, 
adjourns, prorogues or dissolves the general assembly, 
having the full power and authority delegated to him 
of judging from time to time of the Necessity of it, 
we ought to presume that he exercises that power 
with freedom : That he determines according to the 
light of his own understanding, and not anothers : 
That he clearly sees that it will answer those purposes 
which he himself judges to be best ; having, as a man 


of fidelity in his station ought, thoro ly revolv d the 
matter in his own mind : And, that however flatter 
ing the concurrent sentiments of any other man may 
be, he would have been impelled to do it, from the 
dictates of his own judgment, resulting from his own 
contemplation of the matter, if he had not received 
the " express command of his superior." Such a man 
"will bravely act his mind, and venture Death." 


[Boston Gazette, January 8, 1770.] 

To the Printers. 

The agreement of the Merchants of this distressed 
and insulted continent, to with hold importations from 
Great Britain, it seems to be allowed on all sides, has 
the strongest tendency towards the repeal of the acts 
of parliament for raising a revenue in America without 
our consent. It is no wonder then, that it was 
oppos d with so much vehemence at first, by the 
Cabal ; who knew full well, that their Places and 
their Pensions, and all the delectable profits which 
they expected to reap, and are now actually reaping, 
at the expence of the people in town and country, 
would entirely cease, if these acts, by the means of 
which their places, pensions and profits arise should 
be repealed When they could no longer with any 
face call it the last efforts of a dying faction, (for the 
measure was so rational and pacific, that it soon 
spread far and wide, and was chearfully adopted by 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 5 

all disinterested friends of the country thro -out the 
continent) they put on the appearance of the Sons of 
Liberty ; and now their cry is, Where is that Liberty 
so much boasted of and contended for ? We hear 
them very gravely asking, Have we not a right to 
carry on our own trade and sell our own goods if we 
please ? who shall hinder us ? This is now the lan 
guage of those who had before seen the ax laid at the 
very root of all our Rights with apparent complacency, 
And pray gentlemen, Have you not a right if you 
please, to set fire to your own houses, because they 
are your own, tho in all probability it will destroy a 
whole neighbourhood, perhaps a whole city ! Where 
did you learn that in a state or society you had a right 
to do as you please ? And that it was an infringe 
ment of that right to restrain you ? This is a refine 
ment which I dare say, the true sons of liberty despise. 
Be pleased to be informed that you are bound to con 
duct yourselves as the Society with which you are 
joined, are pleased to have you conduct, or if you 
please, you may leave it. It is true the will and 
pleasure of the society is generally declared in its 
laws : But there may be exceptions, and the present 
case is without doubt one. Suppose there was no 
law of the society to restrain you from murdering 
your own father, what think you ? If either of you 
should please to take it into your head to perpetrate 
such a villainous act, so abhorrent to the will of the 
society, would you not be restrained ? And is the 
Liberty of your Country of less importance than 
the life of your father ! But what is most astonishing 
is, that some two or three persons of very little con- 


sequence in themselves, have Dared openly to give 
out that They Will vend the goods they have im 
ported, tho they have Solemnly pledgd Their Faith 
to the body of merchants, that they should remain in 
store till a general importation should take place ! 
Where then is the honor ! where is the shame of these 
persons, who can look into the faces of those very 
men with whom they have contracted, & tell them 
Without Blushing that they are resolved to Violate 
the contract ! Is it avarice ? Is it obstinacy, per- 
verseness, pride, or from what root of bitterness does 
such an unaccountable defection from the laws of 
honor, honesty, and even humanity spring ? Is it the 
Authority Of An Unnatural Parent the advice of 
some false friend, or their own want of common un 
derstanding, and the first principles of virtue, by 
which these unhappy young persons have been in 
duced, or left to resolve upon perpetrating that, at 
the very tho t of which they should have shudder d ! 
By this resolution they have already disgrac d them 
selves ; if they have the Hardiness to put the resolu 
tion into practice, who will ever hereafter confide in 
them ? Can they promise themselves the regards of 
the respectable body of merchants whom they have 
affronted? or can they even wish for the esteem of 
their country which they have basely deserted, or 
worse, which they have attempted to wound in the 
very heart. If they imagine they can still weary the 
patience of an injured country with impunity. If I 
will not utter it would not the grateful remembrance 
of unmerited kindness and Generosity, if there was 
the least spark of ingenuity left, have Influenced to a 


1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 7 

far different resolution ! If this agreement of the 
merchants is of that consequence to All America 
which our brethren in All the other governments, and 
in Great-Britain Itself think it to be If the fate of 
Unborn Millions is suspended upon it, verily it be 
hooves, not the merchants Only, but every individual 
of Every class in City and Country to aid and sup 
port them and Peremptorily To Insist upon its being 
Strictly adhered to. 



[MS., Office of the City Clerk of Boston.] 

To his Honor the Lieutenant Governor in Council 

The Memorial of the Town of Boston legally 
assembled in Faneuil Hall Monday March 19 1770 

Humbly shews 

That with deep Concern- they are made to under 
stand that thro the Providence of God diverse of his 
Majestys Justices of the Superior Court are renderd 
unable to attend the Duties of their important Trust 
by bodily Indisposition. 

1 Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and John Barret were on March 19, 1770, 
appointed by the Boston town-meeting " a Committee to draw up a Memorial 
to the Lieuvetenant Governor and Council praying that special Justices may be 
appointed for the Superior Court now sitting in the room of those who may be 
necessarily prevented by sickness from attending their duty ; that so the Tryals 
of the many Criminals now committed may not be postponed. . . ." At 
the same session the committee reported a draft, which was accepted. Boston 
Record Commissioners Report, vol. xviii., p. 15. 


That there are a great Number of Prisoners now in 
his Majestys Gaol in the County of Suffolk, of whom 
fifteen are confind for Tryal for capital offences. 

That the Sherriff of said County has been under 
Apprehension of the Escape of said Prisoners as 
appears by his Letter to the Town hereto annexd 
to be laid before your honor. 

That there are a great Number of Witnesses in the 
Cases of the late Trajical Murder in Boston many of 
whom are Seamen & detaind to their very great 
Disadvantage & possibly some of them may be under 
Temptation to absent themselves from the Tryal. 

All which the Town beg leave humbly to represent 
to your honor as cogent Reasons for the Tryal of the 
said Prisoners as early as possible in the present 

Wherefore your Memorialists humbly pray your 
Honor to appoint special Justices in the Room of 
those taken off as aforesaid, 1 in order for the Tryal 
of the said Prisoners, or otherwise that your Honor 
w d take such Steps to prevent the Delay of Justice 
at this important Crisis as in your Wisdom shall 
seem meet. 

And as in Duty bound your Mem sts shall ever pray. 

Signd in Behalf of the Town at the Meeting 

1 At this point the words " whom the Town reverence & esteem " were stricken 
from the original draft. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 9 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text with slight variations is 
in W. V. Wells Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., p. 343.] 

BOSTON May n 1770 


Your Resolution yesterday to resign your seat gave 
me very great Uneasiness. I could not think you had 
sufficient Ground to deprive the Town of one whom 
I have a Right to say is a most valueable Member, 
since you had within three of the unanimous Suf 
frages of your Fellow Citizens, & one of the negative 
Votes was your own. 1 You say you have been spoken 
ill of. What then ? Can you think that while you 
are a good Man that all will speak well of you If 
you knew the person who has defamd you nothing is 
more likely than that you would justly value your 
self upon that mans Censure as being the highest 
Applause. Those who were fond of continuing M r 
Otis on the Seat, were I dare say to a Man among 
your warmest friends : Will you then add to their 
Disappointment by a Resignation, merely because 
one contemptible person, who perhaps was hired for 
the purpose, has blessd you with his reviling Need 
I add more than to intreat it as a favor that you would 
alter your Design. 

I am with strict truth 

Your affectionate friend & Brother. 

1 At the Boston town-meeting on May 8, 1770, Hancock received, as a candi 
date for representative, 511 out of 513 votes. 

On June 13, 1770, William Palfrey, acting for Hancock, wrote to Haley and 
Hopkins : " The removal of the General Court to Cambridge obliges Mr. Han 
cock to be often there." John Hancock. His Book, by A. E. Brown, p. 167. 




[MS., Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society ; an incomplete draft 

is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; the latter text only 

is in the handwriting of Adams.] 

BOSTON July isth : 1770 


It affords very great Satisfaction to the Town of 
Boston to find that the Narrative of the horrid mas 
sacre perpetrated here on the 5 th of March last which 
was transmitted to London, 1 has had the desired 
effect ; by establishing truth in the minds of honest 
men, and in some measure preventing the Odium 
being cast on the Inhabitants, as the aggressors in it. 
We were very apprehensive that all attempts would 
be made to gain this Advantage against us : and as 
there is no occasion to think that the malice of our 
Enemies is in the least degree abated, it has been 
thought necessary that our friends on your side the 
Water, should have a true state of the Circumstances 
of the Town and of everything which has materially 
occurred, since the removal of the Troops to the 

1 Under date of March 23, 1770, James Bowdoin, Samuel Pemberton and 
Joseph Warren, as a committee of the town of Boston, wrote to Lord Dart 
mouth, enclosing a narrative of the events of March 5 and a certified copy of 
the vote of town, on March 22, directing them to transmit the printed narra 
tive. The original letter is No. 320 of Lord Dartmouth s American MSS., 
at Patshull House. The text of the same letter, which was addressed to the 
Duke of Richmond and others, is in A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre 
in Boston, New York, 1849. (This is reprinted, with notes by John Doggett, 
Jr., from a copy of the original edition of 1770, in the library of the New York 
Historical Society. Another reprint, with notes by Frederic Kidder, was pub 
lished at Albany, 1870.) The Additional Observations to a Short Narrative, 
1770, are reprinted by Doggett, pp. 109-117. Cf., Proceedings of Colonial 
Society of Massachusetts, April 1900, pp. 13-21. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. n 

Castle. For this purpose we are appointed a Com 
mittee : l But the time will not admit of our writing 
so fully by this Conveyance, as we intend by the next, 
in the mean time we intreat your further friendship 
for the Town, in your Endeavours to get the Judg 
ment of the Public suspended, upon any representa 
tion that may have been made by the Commissioners 
of the Customs and others, until the Town can have 
the Opportunity of knowing what is alleged against 
it, and of answering for itself. We must confess that 
we are astonished to hear that the Parliament had 
come to a determination, to admit Garbled extracts 
from such Letters as may be received from America 
by x^dministration and to Conceal the Names of the 
Persons who may be the Writers of them. This will 
certainly give great Encouragement to Persons of 
wicked Intentions to abuse the Nations & injure the 
Colonies in the grossest manner with Impunity, or 
even without detection. For a Confirmation hereof 
we need to recur no further back than a few months, 
when undoubtedly the Accounts and Letters carried 
by Mr. Rob[in]son would have been attended with 
very unhappy if not fatal effects, had not this Town 
been so attentive as to have Contradicted those false 
accounts by the depositions of many credible persons 
under Oath. But it cannot be supposed that a Com 
munity will be so Attentive but upon the most Alarm 
ing Events : In general Individuals are following 
their private concerns, while it is to be feared the 

1 The town of Boston, on July 10, 1770, appointed a committee of nine, in 
cluding Adams, Hancock, Dana, Gushing and Joseph Warren, to prepare a 
" true state" of the town and of the acts of the commissioners since March 5. 


restless Adversaries are forming the most dangerous 
Plans for the Ruin of the Reputation of the People, 
in order to build their own Greatness on the Distruc- 
tion of their liberties. This Game they have been long 
playing ; and tho in some few instances they have 
had a loosing hand, yet they have commonly managed 
with such Art, that they have so far succeeded in 
their Malicious designs as to involve the Nation and 
the Colonies in Confusion and distress. This it is 
presumed they never could have accomplished had 
not these very letters been kept from the view of the 
Public, with a design perhaps to conceal the false 
hood of them the discovery of which would have 
prevented their having any mischievous effects. This 
is the Game which we have reason to believe they 
are now playing ; With so much Secrecy as may ren 
der it impossible for us fully to detect them on this 
Side of the Water ; How deplorable then must be 
our Condition, if ample Credit is to be given to their 
Testimonies against us, by the Government at home, 
and if the Names of our Accusers are to be kept a 
profound Secret, and the World is to see only such 
parts or parcells of their Representations as Persons, 
who perhaps may be interested in their favor, shall 
think proper to hold up Such a Conduct, if allowed, 
seems to put it into the Power of a Combination of a 
few designing Men to deceive a Nation to its Ruin. 
The measures which have been taken in Consequence 
of Intelligence Managed with such secrecy, have al 
ready to a very great degree lessened that Mutual 
Confidence which had ever Subsisted between the 
Mother Country and the Colonies, and must in the 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 13 

Natural Course of things totally alienate their Affec 
tions towards each other and consequently weaken, 
and in the End destroy the power of the Empire. It 
is in this extended View of things that our minds are 
affected It is from these Apprehensions that we 
earnestly wish that all communication between the 
two Countries of a public nature may be unvailed 
before the public : with the names of the persons who 
are concerned therein, then and not till then will 
American affairs be under the direction of honest 
men, who are never afraid or ashamed of the light. 
And as we have abundent reason to be jealous that 
the most mischievous and virulent accounts have been 
very lately sent to Administration from Castle Wil 
liam where the Commissioners have again retreated 
for no reason that we can conceive but after their 
former manner to misrepresent and injure this Town 
and Province, we earnestly intreat that you would 
use your utmost influence to have an Order passed 
that the whole of the packetts sent by the Commis 
sioners of the Customs and others under the care of 
one M r Bacon late an officer of the Customs in Vir 
ginia, who took his passage the last week in the 
Brigantine Lydia Joseph Wood Commander may be 
laid before his Majesty in Council 

If the Writers of those Letters shall appear to be 
innocent, no harm can possibly arise from such a 
measure ; if otherwise, it may be the means of ex 
ploring the true Cause of the National and Collonial 
Malady, and of affording an easy remedy, and there 
fore the measure must be justified & applauded by 
all the World. 

i 4 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

We have observed in the English Papers, the most 
notorious falsehoods published with an apparent de 
sign to give the World a prejudice against this Town, 
as the Aggressors in the unhappy Transaction of the 
5 th of March, but no account has been more repug 
nant to the truth, than a paper printed in the public 
Advertiser 1 of the 28 th of April which is called The 
case of Cap t. Preston. As a Committee of this Town 
we thought ourselves bound in faithfulness to wait on 
Cap 1 Preston to enquire of him whether he was the 
Author he frankly told us that he had drawn a state 
of his case, but that it had passed thro different 
hands and was altered at different times, and finally 
the Publication in the Advertiser was varied from 
that which he sent home as his own ; we then desired 
him to let us know whether several parts which we 
might point to him and to which we took exception 
were his own, but he declined Satisfying us herein, 
saying that the alterations were made by Persons 
who he supposed might aim at serving him, though 
he feared they might have a Contrary effect, and that 
his discriminating to us the parts of it which were his 
own from those which had been altered by others 
might displease his friends at a time when he might 
stand in need of their essential Service ; this was the 
Substance of the Conversation between us, whereupon 
we retired and wrote to Cap 1 Preston a Letter the 
Copy of which is now inclosed. 2 

The next day not receiving an answer from Capt. 

1 Published in London. The " Case" was also printed in the Annual Regis 
ter, 1771. Cf,, Boston Gazette, June 25, 1770. 

2 Under date of July n, 1770. A copy is in S. A. Wells, Samuel Adams 
and the American Revolution, vol. i., pp. 230-232. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 15 

Preston at the time we proposed, we sent him a mes 
sage desiring to be informed whether we might ex 
pect his answer to which he replied by a Verbal 
Message as ours was that he had nothing further to 
add to what he had said to us the day before, as you 1 
please to observe by the inclosed Certificate- 
As therefore Cap 1 Preston has utterly declined to 
make good the charges against the Town in the 
Paper called his case or to let us know to whom we 
may apply as the Author or Authors of those parts 
which he might have disclaimed, and especially as the 
whole of his case thus stated directly militates not .,{jn\i 
only with his own Letter published under his hand in 
the Boston Gazette, but with the depositions of others 
annexed to our Narrative which were taken, not be 
hind the Curtain as some may have been, but openly 
and fairly, after notifying the Parties interested, and 
before Magistrates to whose credit the Governor of 
the Province has given his full attestation under the 
Province Seal, we cannot think that the Paper called 
the Case of Capt. Thomas Preston, or any other Paper 
of the like import can be deemed in the opinion of 
the sensible and impartial part of mankind as suffi 
cient, in the least degree to prejudice the Character 
of the Town. It is therefore altogether needless for 
us to point out the many falsehoods contained in this 
Paper ; nor indeed would there be time for it at 
present for the reason above mentioned We cannot 
however omit taking notice of the artifice made use 
of by those who drew up the statement, in insinuating 
that it was the design of the People to plunder the 
King s Chest, and for the more easily effecting that 


to murder the Centinel posted at the Custom House 
where the money was lodged. This intelligence is 
said to have been brought to Cap 1 Preston by a 
Townsman, who assured him that he heard the mob 
declare they would murder the Centinel. The towns 
man probably was one Greenwood a Servant to the 
Commissioners whose deposition Number 96.* is in 
serted among others in the Narrative of the Town 
and of whom it is observed in a Marginal Note, that : 
" Through the whole of his examination he was so 
inconsistent, and so frequently contradicted himself, 
that all present were convinced that no credit ought 
to be given to his deposition, for which reason it 
would not have been inserted had it not been known 
that a deposition was taken relating to this affair, from 
this Greenwood by Justice Murray and carried home 
by Mr. Robinson," and further "this deponent is the 
only person, out of a great number of Witnesses ex 
amined, who heard anything mentioned of the Custom 
House." Whether this part of the Case of Cap 1 Pres 
ton was inserted by himself or some other person 
we are not told. It is very much to be questioned 
whether the information was given by any other than 
Greenwood himself, and the sort of Character which 
he bears is so well known to the Commissioners and 
their Connections some of whom probably assisted 
Cap 1 Preston in stating his Case, as to have made 
them ashamed if they regarded the truth, to have 
given the least credit to what he said. Whoever 
may have helped them to this intelligence, we will 

1 The affidavit of Thomas Greenwood, sworn to March 24, 1770, is printed 
in Doggett s edition of the Short Narrative, pp. 101-103. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 17 

venture to say, that it never has been and never can 
be supported by the Testimony of any Man of a 
tolerable reputation. We shall only observe upon 
this occasion, how inveterate our Enemies here are, 
who, rather than omit what they might think a lucky 
opportunity of Slandering the Town, have wrought 
up a Narrative not only unsupported by, but con 
trary to the clearest evidence of facts and have even 
prevailed upon an unhappy Man under pretence of 
friendship to him, to adopt it as his own : Though 
they must have known with a common share of 
understanding, that it s being published to the world 
as his own must have injured him, under his pres 
ent Circumstances, in the most tender point, and 
so shocked was Cap 1 Preston himself, at its appear 
ing in the light on this side the Water, that he 
was immediately apprehensive so glaring a falsehood 
would raise the indignation of a people to such a 
pitch as to prompt them to some attempts that would 
be dangerous to him, and he accordingly applyed to 
M r Sheriff Greenleaf for special protection on that 
account : But the Sheriff assuring him that there 
was no such disposition appearing among the People 
(which is an undoubted truth) Cap 1 Preston s fears at 
length subsided : and he still remains in safe custody, 
to be tried by the Superior Court of Judicature, at 
the next term in August ; unless the Judges shall 
think proper further to postpone the Trial, as they 
have done for one whole term, since he was indicted 
by the Grand Jury. 

Before we conclude it may not be improper to 
observe that the removal of the troops was in the 

VOL. II. 2. 


Slowest order, insomuch that eleven days were spent 
in carrying the two Regiments to Castle Island, which 
had before landed in the Town in less than forty eight 
hours ; yet in all this time, while the number of the 
Troops was daily lessening, not the least disorder was 
made by the inhabitants, tho filled with a just indigna 
tion and horror at the blood of their fellow Citizens, so 
inhumanely spilt ! And since their removal the Com 
mon Soldiers, have frequently and even daily come 
up to the Town for necessary provisions, and some of 
the officers, as well as several of the families of the 
soldiers have resided in the Town and done business 
therein without the least Molestation ; yet so hardy 
have our Enemies been as to report in London that 
the enraged populace had hanged up Cap 1 Preston. 

The strange and irreconcileable conduct of the Com 
missioners of the Customs since the 5th of March 
their applying for leave to retire to the Castle as 
early as the tenth, and spending their time in making 
excursions into the Country till the 2O th of June follow 
ing, together with other material Circumstances, are 
the subject of our present enquiry ; the result of which 
you will be made acquainted with by the next convey 
ance. In the mean time we remain with strict truth. 


Your much obliged 

and most Obedient Servants 





1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 19 


[MS., Boston Public Library ; a text, with many modifications of detail, is 
in Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 240-248; it was also printed in the Boston 
Gazette, August 6, 1770.] 

In the House of Representatives August the 3 

Orderd that M r Hancock Cap Thayer M r Pickerin 
Cap Fuller and Cap Sumner carry up to the Hon bl 
Board the following Answer of this House to his 
Honors Speech to both Houses at the opening of 
this Session 


1 May it please your Honor 

The House of Representatives, having duly at 
tended to your Speech 2 to both Houses at the Open 
ing of this Session, and maturely considerd the 
several parts of it, have unanimously, in a full House 
determind to adhere to their former Resolution 
" that it is by no means expedient to proceed to Busi 
ness, while the General Assembly is thus constraind 
to hold the Session out of the Town of Boston." 
.Upon a Recollection of the Reasons we have before 
given for this measure, we conceive it will appear to 
all the World, that neither the good People of this 
Province, nor the House of Representatives can be 
justly chargd with any ill Consequences that may 
follow it. After the most repeated & attentive Ex 
amination of your Speech, we find Nothing to induce 

1 From this point the manuscript is wholly in the handwriting of Adams. 

2 Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 237-240. 



us to alter our Opinion, and very little that is new & 
material in the Controversy: But as we perceive it is 
publishd, it may possibly be read by some who have 
never seen the Reasons of the House ; and as there 
are specious things containd in it, which may have a 
Tendency to make an unhappy Impression on some 
minds, we have thought proper to make a few Obser 
vations upon it. 

You are pleasd to say, " you meet us at Cam 
bridge, because you have no Reason to think there 
has been any Alteration in his Majestys Pleasure, 
which you doubt not was determind by wise motives, 
& with a gracious Purpose to promote the Good of the 
province." We presume not to call in Question the 
Wisdom of our Sovereign or the Rectitude of his 
Intentions : But there have been Times, when a cor 
rupt and profligate Administration have venturd upon 
such Measures, as have had a direct Tendency, to 
ruin the Interest of the People as well as that of their 
Royal Master. 

This House have great Reason to doubt, whether 
it is, or ever was his Majestys Pleasure that your 
Honor should meet the Assembly at Cambridge, or 
that he has ever taken the matter under his Royal 
Consideration : Because, the common and the best 
Evidence in such Cases, is not communicated to us. 

It is needless for us to add any thing to what has 
been heretofore said, upon the Illegality of holding 
the Court any where except in the Town of Boston : 
For admitting the Power to be in the Governor to 
hold the Court in any other place when the publick 
Good requires it ; yet, it by no means follows that he 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 21 

has a Right to call it at any other place, when it is to 
the manifest Injury & Detriment of the Publick. 

The Opinion of the Attourny and Solicitor General 
has very little Weight with this House in any Case, 
any farther than the Reasons which they expressly 
give are convincing. This Province has sufferd so 
much by unjust, groundless & illegal Opinions of 
those officers of the Crown, that our Veneration or 
Reverence for their Opinions is much abated. We 
utterly deny that the Attourny & Solicitor General 
have any Authority or Jurisdiction over us ; any 
Right to decide Questions in Controversy, between 
the several Branches of the Legislature here : Nor do 
we concede, that even his Majesty in Council has any 
Constitutional Authority to decide such Questions, or 
any other Controversy whatever that arises in this Pro 
vince, excepting only such Matters as are reservd in 
the Charter. It seems a great Absurdity, that when 
a Dispute arises between the Governor and the 
House, the Governor should appeal to his Majesty in 
Council to decide it. Would it not be as reasonable 
for the House to appeal to the Body of their Constit 
uents to decide it ? Whenever a Dispute has arisen 
within the Realm, between the Crown & the two 
Houses of Parliament, or either of them, was it ever 
imagind that the King in his privy Council had \ 
Authority to decide it ? However there is a Test, a 
Standard common to all, we mean the publick Good. 
But your Honor must be very sensible that the 
Illegality of holding the Court in any other place 
besides the Town of Boston is far from being the 
only Dispute between your Honor & this House : we 


contend, that the People & their Representatives have 
a Right to withstand the abusive Exercise of a legal 
& constitutional Prerogative of the Crown. We beg 
Leave to recite to your Honor what the Great M r 
Locke has advancd in his Treatise of civil Govern 
ment, upon the like Prerogative of the Crown. " The 
old Question, says he, will be asked in this matter of 
Prerogative, who shall be Judge when this Power is 
made a right Use of ?" And he answers, " Between 
an executive Power in being with such a Prerogative, 
and a Legislative that depends upon his Will for 
their convening, there can be no Judge on Earth, as 
there can be none between the Legislative & the 
People, should either the Executive or Legislative 
when they have got the Power in their Hands, design 
or go about to enslave or destroy them. The People ^ 
have no other Remedy in this, as in all other Cases, 
where they have no Judge on Earth, but to appeal to 
Heaven. For the Rulers, in such Attempts, exercis- , 
ing a Power the People never put into their Hands - 
(who can never be supposd to consent that any Body 
should rule over them for their Harm) do that 
which they have not a Right to do. And when the 
Body of the People or any single Man is deprivd of 
their Right, or under the Exercise of a Power with 
out Right, and have no Appeal on Earth, then they 
have a Liberty to appeal to Heaven whenever they 
judge the Cause of sufficient moment. And there 
fore, tho the People cannot be judge, so as to have 
by the Constitution of that Society any superior 
Power to determine and give effective Sentence in 
the Case ; yet they have by a Law antecedent & para 
mount to all positive Laws of Men, reservd that ulti- 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 23 

mate Determination to themselves which belongs to 
all Mankind where there lies no Appeal on Earth viz 
to judge whether they have just Cause to make their 
Appeal to Heaven." We would however, by no 
means be understood to suggest that this People have 
Occasion at present to proceed to such Extremity. 

Your Honor is pleasd to say, "that the House of 
Representatives in the year 1728, did not think the 
Form of the Writ, sufficient to justify them in refus 
ing to do Business at Salem " ; It is true they did not 
by any Vote or Resolve determine not to do Busi 
ness yet the House, as we read in your Honors 
History, " met and adjournd from Day to Day with 
out doing Business " ; 1 and we find by the Records, 
that from the 31 of October 1728 to the 14* of De 
cember following the House did meet and adjourn 
without doing Business ; And then they voted to 
proceed to the publick & necessary Affairs of the 
province " provided no Advantage be had or made, 
for and by Reason of the aforesaid Removal (mean 
ing the Removal to Salem) or pleaded as a prece 
dent for the future". Yet your Honor has been 
pleasd to quote the Conduct of that very House, as 
a precedent for our Imitation. We apprehend their 
proceeding to Business, & the Consequences of it viz, 
the Encouragement it gave to Governor Burnet to go 
on with his Design of harrassing them into unconstitu 
tional Compliances, and the Use your Honor now 
makes of it as an Authority and a Precedent, ought 
to be a Warning to this House to make a determind 

1 Inaccurately quoted from T. Hutchinson, History of the Province of Massa 
chusetts Bay, vol. ii., p. 317. 


& effectual Stand. Their Example, tho respectable, 
is not obligatory upon this House. They lived in 
times, when the Encroachments of Despotism were 
in their Infancy. They were carried to Salem, by 
the mere Caprice of Governor Burnet, who never 
pleaded an Instruction for doing this An Instruction 
from a Ministry who had before treated them with 
unexampled Indignity An Instruction which they 
were i\o\. permitted to see. They had no Reason to 
apprehend a fixd Design to alter the Seat of Govern 
ment, to their great Inconvenience and the manifest 
Injury of the Province. 

We are not disposd to dispute the Understanding, 
Integrity, Familys & Estates of the Council in 1728. 
We believe them to have been such, that if they were 
now upon the Stage, they would see so many addi 
tional & more weighty Reasons against proceeding 
to Business out of Boston, that they would fully 
approve of the Resolution of this House ; as well as 
of what has been lately advancd by their Successors, 
who are also Gentlemen of Understanding, Integrity, 
Fortune and Family, in the following Words ; " Gov 
ernor Burnets Conduct in convening the General 
Court out of Boston, cannot be deemd an acknow- 
legd or constitutional Precedent, because, it was 
not founded on the only Reason on which the Pre 
rogative of the Crown can be justly founded, The 
Good of the Community." We shall only add, that 
the Rights of the province having been of late years 
most severely attackd, has indued Gentlemen to ex 
amine the Constitution more thorowly, & has increasd 
their Zeal in its Defence. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS, 25 

You are pleasd to adduce an Instance in 1754 in 
Addition to that in 1747, which you say " makes it 
probable, that the House of Representatives rather 
chose that the Court should sit elsewhere, when a 
Comittee was chosen to consider of and report a 
proper place for a Court House at a Distance from 
Boston". We beg Leave here to observe, that both 
these are Instances of the House s interesting them 
selves in this Affair, which your Honor now claims as 
a Prerogative : If the House were in no Case to have 
a Voice, or be regarded, in chusing a place to hold 
the Court, how could they think of building a House 
in a place, to which they never had been, and proba 
bly, never would be called. 

While the House have been from time to time, 
holding up to View, the great Inconveniencys and 
manifest Injurys resulting from the Sitting of the 
Assembly at Cambridge, and praying a Removal to 
Boston, it is with Pain that they have heard your 
Honor, instead of pointing out any one good Purpose 
which can be answerd by it, replying that your 
Instructions will not permit you to remove the Court 
to Boston. By a royal Grant in the Charter, in favor 
of the Commons of this province, the Governor has 
the sole power of adjourning, proroguing and dissolv 
ing the General Court : And the Wisdom of that 
Grant appears in this, that a person residing in the 
province, must be a more competent Judge, of the 
Fitness of the Time, and we many add, the place of 
holding the Court, than any person residing in Great 
Britain. We do not deny, that there may be In 
stances when the Comander in Chiefe, ought to obey 


the Royal Instructions : And should we also admit, 
that in ordinary Cases he ought to obey them, respect 
ing the convening, holding, proroguing, adjourning 
& dissolving the General Court, notwithstanding 
that Grant ; yet we clearly hold, that whenever In 
structions cannot be complyd with, without injuring 
the people, they cease to be binding. Any other 
Supposition would involve this Absurdity in it, that 
a Substitute by Means of Instructions from his Prin 
cipal, may have a greater Power than the Principal 
himself; or in other Words, that a Representative 
of a King who can do no Wrong, by means of 
Instructions may obtain a Right to do Wrong : for 
that the Prerogative extends not to do any Injury, 
never has and never can be denyd. Therefore this 
House are clearly of Opinion, that your Honor is 
under no Obligation to hold the General Court at 
Cambridge, let your Instructions be conceivd in 
Terms ever so peremptory, in as much as it is incon 
venient and injurious to the province. As to your 
Commission, it is certain, that no Clause containd in 
that, inconsistent with the Charter can be binding : 
To suppose, that when a Grant is made by Charter 
in favor of the people, Instructions shall supercede 
that Grant, and oblige the Governor to act repugnant 
to it, is vacating the Charter at once, by the Breath of 
a Minister of State. Your Honor thinks you may 
safely say, " there is not one of us, who if he was in 
your Station, would venture to depart from the Instruc 
tions." As you had not the least Shadow of Evidence 
to warrant this, we are sure you could not say it with 
Safety : And we leave it with your Honor to deter- 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 27 

mine, how far it is reconcileable with Delicacy to sug 
gest it. In what particulars the holding the General 
Court at Cambridge is injurious to us and the Pro 
vince, has already been declared by the House, and 
must be too obvious to escape your Honors Obser 
vation. Yet you are pleasd to tell us, that "the 
Inconveniences can easily be removd, or are so incon 
siderable that a very small publick Benefit will out 
weigh them "- -That they are not inconsiderable, 
every Days Experience convinces us ; nor are our 
Constituents insensible of them : But how they can 
be easily removd, we cannot conceive, unless by 
removing the Court to Boston. Can the publick 
Offices & Records, to which we are under the 
Necessity of recurring, almost every Hour, with any 
Safety or Convenience to the publick be removd to 
Cambridge ? Will our Constituents consent to be at 
the Expence of erecting a proper House at Cam 
bridge, for accommodating the General Court, espe 
cially when they have no Assurance that the next 
Freak of a capricious Minister will not remove the 
Court to some other place ? Is it possible to have 
that Communication with our Constituents, or to be 
benefited by the Reasonings of the people without 
Doors here, as at Boston ? We cannot but flatter 
ourselves, that every judicious and impartial Person 
will allow, that the holding the General Court at 
Cambridge, is inconvenient and hurtful to the Pro 
vince ; Nor has your Honor ever yet attempted to 
show a single Instance, in which the province can be 
benefited by it : No good purpose which can be 
answerd by it, has ever yet been suggested by any 


one to this House. And we have the utmost Confi 
dence, that our gracious Sovereign, has no Desire to 
hold the General Court at any place inconvenient to 
its Members, or injurious to the province ; but rather, 
that he will frown upon those, who have procurd its 
Removal to such a place, or persist in holding it 

We are not indeed sure, that the Ministry caused 
the Assembly to be removd to Cambridge, in order 
to worry them into a Compliance with any arbitrary 
Mandate, to the Ruin of our own or our Constitu 
ents Libertys : But we know, that the General As 
sembly has in Times past been treated with such 
Indignity and Abuse, by the Servants of the Crown, 
and a wicked Ministry may attempt it again. 

Your Honor observes, that "the same Exception 
may be made to the Use of every other part of the 
prerogative, for every part is capable of Abuse." We 
shall never except to the proper Use of the preroga 
tive : We hold it sacred as the Liberty of the Sub 
ject. But every Abuse of it, will always be excepted 
to, so long as the Love of Liberty, or any publick 
Virtue remains. And whenever any other part of the 
prerogative shall be abusd, the House will not fail to 
judge for themselves of the Grievance, nor to exert 
every power with which the Constitution hath en 
trusted them, to check the Abuse, and redress the 

The House had expressd to your Honor their Ap 
prehension of a fixd Design, either to change the 
Seat of Government, or to harrass us, in order to 
bring us into a Compliance with some arbitrary Man- 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 29 

date : Your Honor says, you know of no fixd De 
sign to harrass us &c. : Upon which we cannot but 
observe, that if you did not know of a fixd Design to 
change the Seat of Governm 1 you would not have 
omitted so fair an Opportunity to satisfy the Minds 
of the House, in a Matter of such Importance to the 
Province. As to your very condescending and liberal 
Professions, of exercising patience, or using Dispatch, 
as would be most agreable to us, we shall be very 
much obligd to your Honor, for the Exercise of those 
Virtues, whenever you shall see Cause to remove us 
to our ancient and establishd Seat : But these pro 
fessions can be no Temptations to us, to give up our 

Your Honor is pleasd to say, that "we consider 
the Charter as a Compact between the Crown and 
the People of this province " and to ask a Question 
" Shall one Party to the Compact be held, and not 
the other"? It is true, we consider the Charter as 
such a Compact, and agree that both Parties are held. 
The Crown covenants, that a Great & General Court 
shall be held, every last Wednesday in May for ever ; 
The Crown therefore, doubtless is bound by this 
Covenant. But we utterly deny, that the people 
have covenanted to grant Money, or to do Business, 
at least any other Business than chusing Officers and 
Councellors to compleat the General Court, on the 
last Wednesday of May, or in any other Day or Year 
whatever: Therefore this House, by refusing to do 
Business, do not deprive the Crown of the Exercise 
of the prerogative, nor fail of performing their part of 
the Compact. Your Honor w d doubtless have been 

3 o THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

culpable had you refusd to call a General Court on 
the last Wednesday in May : And the House might 
have been equally culpable, if they had refusd to 
chuse a Speaker and Clerk, or to elect Councellors, 
whereby to compleat the General Court ; for in Case 
of Omission in either part, a Question might arise, 
Whether the people would have a Legislative. When 
the General Assembly is thus formd, they are impow- 
erd by the Charter, to make, ordain and establish all 
Manner of wholesome and reasonable Orders, Laws, 
Statutes & Ordinances, Directions and Instructions, 
either with penaltys or without. But the Charter no 
where obliges the Gen 1 Court, to make any Orders, 
Laws, Statutes or Ordinances, unless they, at that 
time judge it conducive to the publick Good to make 
them : Much less does it oblige them to make any 
Laws &c, in any particular Session, year or number 
of years, whenever they themselves shall judge them 
not to be for the publick Good. Such an Obligation 
would leave them the least Color of Freedom, but 
reduce them to a mere machine ; to the State the 
Parliament would have been in, if the Opinion of 
the two Chiefe Justices and the three puisne Judges 
had prevaild in the Reign of Richard the second 
"that the King hath the Governance of Parlia 
ment, and may appoint what shall be first handled, 
and so gradually what next, in all matters to be treated 
of in parliament, even to the End of the parliament ; 
and if any person shall act contrary to the Kings 
pleasure made known therein, they are to be punishd 
as Traitors" for which opinion those five Judges 
had Judgment as in Case of high Treason, Your 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 31 

Honor will allow us to ask, Whether the Doctrine 
containd in your Question viz, " If you should refuse 
to do Business now you are met, would you not de 
prive the Crown of the Exercise of the prerogative, 
and fail of performing your part of the Compact " 
which implys a strong affirmation, is not in a Degree, 
the very Doctrine of Chiefe Justice Tresilian and the 
four other Judges just now mentiond ? By conven 
ing in Obedience to his Majesty s Writ, tested by 
your Honor, and again, at the time to which we are 
prorogud, we have submitted to the prerogative, and 
performd our part of the Compact. 

This House has the same inherent Rights in this 
Province, as the House of Commons has in Great 
Britain. It is our Duty to procure a Redress of 
Grievances, and we may constitutionally refuse to 
grant our Constituents money to the Crown, or to do 
any other Act of Government, at any given time, that 
is not affixd by Charter to a certain Day, until the 
Grievances of the people are redressd. We do not 
pretend, that our Opinion is to prevail against his 
Majestys Opinion : We never shall attempt to ad 
journ or prorogue or dissolve the General Court : 
But we do hope, that our Opinion shall prevail, 
against any Opinion whatever, of the proper time to 
make Laws and to do Business. And by exerting 
this Power which the Constitution has given us, we 
hope to convince your Honor and the Ministry of the 
Necessity of removing the Court to Boston. All 
judicious Men will allow that the proper time for the 
House to do their part of the Business of the province, 
is for the House to judge of and determine. The 


House think it is not, in the present Circumstances 
of the province, a proper time to do this Business, 
while the Court is constraind to hold their Session 
out of Boston : Your Honor is of a different Opin 
ion : We have conformd to this Opinion as far as 
the Constitution requires us, And now our right of 
judging commences. If your Honors or even his 
Majestys Opinion concerning this Point is to prevail 
against the Opinion of the House, why may not the 
Crown, according to the Tresilian Doctrine, as well 
prescribe what Business we shall do, and in what 

The House is still ready to answer for all the ill 
Consequences which can justly be attributed to them ; 
nor are they sensible of any Danger from exerting 
the power which the Charter has given them of doing 
their part of the Business in their own time. That 
the Province has Enemies who are continually defam 
ing it, and their Charter, is certain ; that there are 
Persons who are endeavoring to intimidate the pro 
vince from asserting and vindicating their just Rights 
and Liberties, by Insinuations of Danger to the Con 
stitution, is also indisputable ; But no Instance hap- 
pend, even in the execrable Reign of the worst of the 
Stuart Race, of a Forfeiture of a Charter, because 
any one Branch of a Legislature, or even because the 
whole Government under the Charter, refusd to do 
Business at a particular time, under grievous Circum 
stances of Ignominy, Disgrace and Insult ; and when 
their Charter had explicitly given to that Government 
the sole power of judging of the proper Season & 
Occasion of doing Business. 


1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 33 

We are obligd at this time to struggle, with all the 
Powers with which the Constitution hath furnishd us, 
in Defence of our Rights ; to prevent the most value- 
able of our Libertys, from being wrested from us, by 
the subtle Machinations, and daring Encroachments 
of wicked Ministers. We have seen of late, innumer 
able Encroachments on our Charter : Courts of Ad- 
miraltry extended from the high Seas, where by the 
Compact in the Charter, they are confind, to number 
less important Causes upon Land : Multitudes of 
civil Officers, the Appointment of all which is confind 
by Charter to the Governor and Council, sent here 
from abroad by the Ministry : A Revenue, not 
granted by us, but torn from us : Armys stationd 
here without our Consent ; and the Streets of our 
Metropolis, crzmsondwith the Blood of our fellow Sub 
jects. These, and other Grievances and Cruelties, 
too many to be here enumerated, and too melan- 
cholly to be much longer born by this injurd People, 
we have seen brot upon us by the Devices of Minis 
ters of State. We have seen & had of late, Instruc 
tions to Governors which threaten to destroy all the 
remaining Privileges of our Charter. In June 1768, 
the House, by an Instruction were orderd to rescind 
an excellent Resolution of a former House, on pain 
of Dissolution ; * they refusd to comply with so im 
pudent a Mandate, and were dissolvd. And the 
Governor, tho repeatedly requested, and tho the 
Exigences of the Province demanded a General As 
sembly, refusd to call a new one, till the following 
May. In the last year, the General Court was forcd 

1 See Vol. I., p. 230. 

VOL. II. 3. 

= ======^= === 


to give Way to regular Troops, illegally quarterd in 
the Town of Boston, in Consequence of Instructions 
to Crown Officers, and whose main Guard was most 
daringly and insultingly placd at the Door of the 
State house ; and afterwards they were constraind to 
hold their Session at Cambridge. The present year 
the Assembly is summond to meet, and is still con 
tinued there in a kind of Duress, without any Reason 
that can be given any Motive whatever, that is not 
as great an Insult to them, and Breach of their Privi 
lege, as any of the foregoing. Are these things 
consistent with the Freedom of the House ; or, could 
the General Courts tamely submiting to such Usage, 
be thought to promote his Majestys Service ! 

Should these Struggles of the House prove unfor 
tunate and ineffectual, this Province will submit, with 
pious Resignation to the Will of Providence ; but it 
would be a kind of Suicide, of which we have the 
utmost Horror, thus to be made the Instruments of 
our Servitude. 

We beg leave before we conclude, to make one 
Remark on what you say, that " our Compliance can 
be of no Benefit to our Sovereign, any farther than as 
he interests himself in the Happiness of his Subjects." 
We are apprehensive that the World may take this 
for an Insinuation, very much to our Dishonor : As 
if the Benefit of our Sovereign were a Motive in our 
Minds, against a Compliance. But as this Imputa 
tion would be extremely unjust, so we hope it was 
not intended by your Honor. We are however 
obligd in Justice to our selves and our Constituents 
to declare that if we had Reason to believe, that a 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 35 

Compliance would be any, the least Benefit to our 
Sovereign, it would be a very powerful Argument 
with us ; But we are on the Contrary, fully perswaded, 
that a Compliance at present, would be very injurious 
and detrimental to his Majestys Service. 

\Boston Gazette, August 13, 1770.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

"What availed the good Qualities of Galba? He 
who should not have employed bad Men, or at least 
should have restrained or punished them, incurred the 
same Censure as if he himself had done it ! // is the 
common Craft of corrupt Ministers to represent their 
Cause as the Cause of their Prince." 

His Honor the Lieutenant Governor, in his late 
Reply 2 to the House of Representatives, tells them, 
that " a Secretary of State has by Virtue of his Office 
free Access " to the King ; & " receives the Significa 
tion of his Majesty s pleasure " ; from whence he 
concludes that " he will give no directions but what 
he knows to be agreable thereto ", and therefore 
" every order coming from a Minister of State, must 
be suppos d to come immediately from the Crown" 
-This is reasoning plausibly enough ; but before I 

1 The succeeding articles of this series were attributed to Adams by George 
Bancroft. This is confirmed by apparently contemporaneous annotations in the 
file of the Gazette owned by Harbottle Dorr, at one time a selectman of Boston. 
At the trial of Capt. Preston in November, 1770, he was drawn as a juror and 
" challenged for cause." An advertisement of his business appears in the 
Boston Gazette, October I, 1770. 

2 August 3, 1770, Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 249-254. 

3 6 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

can give my full Assent to the Conclusion, I must 
have good Grounds to believe this same Secretary 
to be a Man of Wisdom and Integrity; a Charac 
ter, which however requisite, does not always belong 
to a Minister of State. If he is deficient in both 
or either of these, we can have no Assurance, that 
every Order coming from him is declaratory of the 
Pleasure of the Sovereign : His want of Wisdom 
may render him altogether incapable of understand 
ing the Mind of his royal Master ; or, failing in point 
of Integrity he may maliciously and traiterously per 
vert his benevolent Intentions for the Good of his 
Subjects. Whenever Orders are given by a Secre- }\ 
tary of State, that are evidently calculated to injure 
the Publick, we are by no Means to suppose them to 
come immediately from the Crown, for the King can 
do no Wrong : Will his Honor have us believe that 
the King can do a weak & foolish, or a malevolent 
and wicked Act? If not, such Instructions are to be 
look d upon as the acts of the Minister and not of the I 
King. Ministers of state were formerly shields to 
the persons of Kings from such kind of imputations ; 
but it is much to be feared, if care is not taken to 
prevent it, the idle whimsies of Ministers, their weak 
ness and folly, or their daring and impudent attempts 
to destroy the Liberties of the People, will be at 
tributed to a Cause which no one, to be sure at 
present, will chuse to mention. I hope his Honor s 
reasoning, and his correspondent Conduct, does not 
lead to this The House of Representatives seem 
to be aware of the Danger of such Doctrine, when 
they expressly say, " They presume not to call in 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 37 

question the Wisdom of their Sovereign or the rec 
titude of his Intentions"; at the same time that 
they speak with a manly Freedom, of certain Instruc 
tions that have come from Ministers of State, and 
even treat them with Indignity and Contempt. His 
Honor presumes " they would not have done this, if 
they had known it to be an Order from his Majesty." 
I believe they would not ; they saw reason to think 
that the Mandate to rescind in June 1768, was the 
mere act of a weak Minister ; and as his Honor does 
not give the least Intimation, that he either knows or 
believes to the Contrary, I must beg leave to say, 
that in my poor Opinion, the Epithet given to it by 
the House, is neither " coarse " nor "indecent." 

We seem, Messrs. Printers, to be drawing very 
near the time, when some people will be hardy enough 
to dispute, whether we are to be governed accord 
ing to the rule of the Constitution, the building of 
which has been the Work of Ages, or to use the 
words of the House, by the "breath of a Minister of 
State." Instructions, form d by a set of Ministers, 
calculated for certain purposes and sent over to a 
Governor, who to avoid their high Displeasure and 
the terrible Effects of it, must implicitly believe, or 
say he believes them, to come immediately from the 
King ; and the House of Representatives must by no 
means controvert them, lest, as Bernard once impu 
dently told them, they should be chargeable with 
" oppugnation against the King s authority." 1 

There is a sort of Impropriety, as I take it, in say 
ing that every Order from a Minister of State comes 

1 May 29, 1766, Massachusetts State Papers, p. 75. 


immediately from the Crown. However, little Inac 
curacies in diction are not to be regarded in a per 
formance fraught with reason and sound argument : 
It is rather to be wondered at that we meet with so 
few Imperfections, since we are assured by his Honor 
that he had taken "one Day only for his Reply" to 
an Answer which he intimates cost a Committee of 
the House full Eight Days hard Labor. 1 Some men 
are said to have intuitive knowledge ; and such have 
nothing to do but write down pages of unanswerable 
reasons as fast as the Ink can flow. 

It was doubtless from this opinion that "every 
Order from a Secretary of State comes immediately 
from the King," or as his Honor elsewhere more 
properly expresses it, is a * Signification of his Maj 
esty s pleasure/ that he concludes it to be his Majesty s 
pleasure that he should not communicate them ; for 
such a prohibitory order is said to come from the 
Secretary. But the House seemed to think it impos 
sible that our gracious King, should hold his Subjects 
to a blind obedience to Orders which they were not 
permitted to see ; and therefore concluded, and as I 
humbly conceive very justly, that this order in a par 
ticular manner, was to be suppos d to be an Act of 
the Minister and not of the King His Honor in 
deed speaks of it with great Veneration ; and tells 
them that " the restraint he is under appears to him 
to be founded upon wise Reasons." But from this 
alone, he could not with certainty conclude that the 
Order came immediately from the King ; for it is un 
doubtedly his Honor s opinion, that \he. present set of 

1 Massachusetts State Papers, p. 254. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 39 

Ministers are very wise men, tho not so wise as his 
Majesty ; and therefore he might take it for granted, 
the Order was founded on wise reasons if it had come 
from them only. But as in these times of Light and 
Liberty, every man chuses to see and judge for him 
self, especially in all matters which are prescribed to 
him as rules of faith and practice ; it is pity his Honor 
did not condescend to communicate those wise rea 
sons, that the House and the People without Doors, 
here and there "a transient Person" who may have a 
common share of understanding, might judge whether 
they appeared to them to be reasons becoming the 
Wisdom of a King, or only as the House somewhere 
express it, "the freaks of a capricious Minister of 

If I have leisure I shall write you again. In the 
mean Time, I am, Your s, 



[Boston Gazette, August 20, 1770.] 

u One of the greatest indications of Wisdom that a 
Prince can show, is to converse with and have about 
him virtuous and wise Men : But Princes are liable 
to be deceived ; Fraudum sedes aula, was the saying 
of a Philosopher who understood Courts well. A 
good Prince may suffer by employing bad Ministers 
and Servants." 


WE are told in a late reply, that " the offices of 
Attornies and Sollicitors-General have been for more 

4 o 


than fifty years past filled up by persons of the highest 
reputation for learning and integrity." I am apt to 
think, if we look back we shall find that some of these 
officers of the crown have been as deficient in learning 
or integrity, or both, as we know some ministers of state 
have been. The house of Representatives say, " the 
province has suffer d much by their unjust, groundless 
and illegal opinions" 2 Among other instances of 
weakness or wickedness in some persons who have 
filled these offices, I shall only mention one which 
now occurs to my mind There is an act of Parlia 
ment which exempts seamen from an impress in 
America : This act was upon several occasions urged 
by the Americans, and it has been the opinion of at- 
tornies and sollicitors general, at different times, that 
the act was limitted to a time of war, when in truth 
there was no part or clause whatever in it to justify 
such opinion. Well then may it be called a groundless 
opinion ; and if groundless, will any one insist that 
there was no defect in these instances in point of in 
tegrity, if not of learning Perhaps these opinions 
may appear to his Honor to be founded upon wise 
reasons ; but others who cannot see the force of these 
reasons, have a right to think differently ; and such a 
freedom is not likely to bring dishonor upon them 
It is enough for those who are dependent upon 
the great for commissions, pensions, and the like, to 
preach up implicit faith in the great Others whose 
minds are unfettered will think for themselves They 
will not blindly adopt the opinions even of persons 
who are advanced to the first stations in the courts of 

1 Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 249, 250. * Ibid., p. 241. 

i77] SAMUEL ADAMS. 41 

law and equity, any further than the reasons which 
they expressly give are convincing. They will judge 
freely of every point of state doctrine, & reject with 
disdain a blind submission to the authority of mere 
names, as being equally ridiculous, as well as danger 
ous in government and religion. It may have been, 
Messirs. Printers, too much the practice of late, for 
some plantation governors, like Verres either ancient 
or modern, to oppress and plague the people they 
were bound to protect, and, perhaps in obedience to 
" orders that have come from secretaries of state"- 
These orders truly were to be treated with as profound 
veneration, without the least enquiry into their nature 
and tendency, as ever a poor deluded Catholic rev- 
erenc d the decree of Holy Father at Rome. While 
such a disposition prevailed, O how orderly were the 
people, how submissive to government ! But when 
once a statute or the constitution was pleaded, which 
it was as dangerous for the people to look into, as it 
would be for an Italian, after the example of the 
noble Bereans y to search the scriptures, the secretary 
of state was to be informed that the people were be 
come rebellious ; as they said of St. Paul for preach 
ing doctrines opposite to the humour of the Jewish 
Masters, that he " turned the world upside down"- 
The whole ministerial cabal was summoned ; opinions 
were called for and taken and however ludicrous, 
to say the best of them, those opinions were, if the 
people did not swallow them down as law & reason, 
they were told, that the freedom they used with the 
characters of great men forsooth " would bring dis 
honor upon them " and standing armies were sent to 


convince them of the reasonableness of these opin 
ions I confess that " too great respect cannot be paid 
to the honorable part of the profession of the law," but 
when state-lawyers, attorneys and sollicitors general, & 
persons advanced to the highest stations in the courts 
of \sw, prostitute the honor of the profession, become 
tools of ministers, and employ their talents for explain 
ing away, if possible the Rights of a kingdom, they 
are then the proper objects of the odium and indigna 
tion of the public. A very judicious author has ob 
served that " our maladies and dangers have originated 
chiefly in the errors and misconduct of ministers ; 
who from defect of ability or fidelity, or both, were 
unequal to the wants of a kingdom : A great genius, 
infinite knowledge and infinite care, says he, are 
requisite to form a prime minister ; but youth and 
dissipation, with the trainings of the turf and the 
gaming table, will now suffice to make a man master 
of the most difficult trade in the world, without learn 
ing it" Such were the men, under whose Influence 
Attorneys and Sollicitors General, within these fifty 
Years past, have held their places, and have even 
been advanced to the highest Stations in the Courts 
of Law, without any other recommendation than a 
servile disposition to prostitute the Law and the 
Constitution, whenever their Masters should require 
it of them Such have been the Men, from whom 
Orders have come to Governors and Commanders in 
Chief, civil and military in America ! And shall we 
easily be persuaded to take it for granted that 
suck men are incapable of abusing the high trust 
reposed in them, and that Orders coming from them 

i77] SAMUEL ADAMS. 43 

are always to be considered as " Significations of the 
pleasure of the Sovereign. "- 

Your s, 



[Boston Gazette, August 27, 1770.] 


I Find in the last Monday s Evening Post, 1 a Piece, 
signed Probus ; the Intention of which seems to be, 
at least in Part, to show that I must be " effectually 
disappointed in my Attempt to convince the World 
that I am a greater Scholar than the Lieutenant- 
Governor of this Province" ! Now upon the Word 
of a Chatterer, I declare to all my kind Readers, as 
well as Hearers, that I never did make the least Pre 
tension to Scholarship ; and besides, the World must 
long have been so fully convinced of the " profound 
Erudition " of the Lieutenant-Governor of this Pro 
vince, that it would be the highest Degree of Vanity 
in any Man to think of rivaling him as a Scholar. It 
was obvious to common Readers that " what comes 
from the King thro his Minister, does not come im 
mediately from the King" And yet every Paper of 
the 6th of August led us to think that an " Expression 
in itself repugnant and absurd ", had, perhaps thro 
Inadvertency, drop t even from a learned Pen So far 
was I from "bravely attacking the Word imme 
diately," or " entering into a formal Criticism," or any 

1 The Boston Evening Post, published by T. & J. Fleet. 


Criticism at all, that I but barely mentioned it as a 
little inaccuracy"; at the same Time making the 
best Apology I could for it, by saying that as his 
Honor had assured us he "had taken one Day only 
for his Reply" it was rather to be wonder d at, that 
we met with so few Imperfections of that kind. But 
Probus has rectify d the Mistake, and Probus has vin 
dicated the Lt. Governor of this Province as a Scholar. 
-We Chatterers, Messrs. Printers, have as much 
Pretension to the Character of the Gentleman, as any 
such formal and grave kind of folks as Probus : But I 
did not think myself under any obligation " as a Gen 
tleman or an honest Man " to hunt after the Original, 
and therefore I have no Acknowledgment to make to 
any one for " a faulty Neglect in not seeing it before 
my Publication." I suppos d, as any one might, that 
the printed Copies were agreable to the original ; 
and, that our Enemies may not avail themselves of 
the common Artifice, in representing the Advocates 
for the People as endeavoring to deceive the public 
I do again declare, that " in my Conscience I thought 
the printed Copy to be genuine"; and I hereby bear 
my Testimony, as far as that will go, against any 
Abuse being offered to Probus, which, poor Man, he 
either is, or affects to be under Apprehensions of, for 
rectifying this Mistake : But as few persons beside 
his Honor the Pope, lay Claim to Infallibility, upon 
due Consideration it seemeth not, that I am guilty of 
such high Crime and Misdeameanour, as by any Rule 
in Law to be subjected to Indictment or ex officio 
Information. However, I think it incumbent on you 
to suffer your Readers to be advertiz d, that instead of 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 45 

immediately in his Honor s Reply to the House of Rep 
resentatives, as published in your Paper of the 6th of 
August, they ought to read mediately ; which may pre 
vent some other Chatterer from rudely attempting to 
convince the World that he is " a greater Scholar than 
the Lt. Governor of this Province ; " Such an attempt 
perhaps may otherwise be made at a Distance where 
Probus may not have it in his Power to set right this 
notable Mistake The Word being thus restored, the 
Passage will remain just as liable to the Chatterer s 
Exception, notwithstanding all that Probus has said, 
as if it stood as it did ; for the whole that was in 
tended, was, to show, that we ought to take the 
Characters of Ministers of State into Consideration, 
before we conclude, as his Honor would have us, that 
every Order from them comes mediately from the 
Crown, or is a Signification of his Majesty s Pleasure. 
There is in the same Evening Post, as well as the 
Boston Post-Boy & Advertiser, 1 & also in the Gazette 
of Thursday last, an Advertisement wherein the same 
Notice is taken of this Assault and Battery of mine 
upon the Scholarship of the Lieutenant Governor of 
this Province I am sorry that my poor Publication, 
which seems after all to be of no more Significancy 
in their Opinion than " a Man of Straw " has given 
so great Uneasiness to some of his Honor s Friends 


-This Advertiser indirectly chargeth me with Inde 
cency in " undertaking to answer a Governor s 
Message." Now I did not undertake to answer a 
Governor s Message ; and to speak plain, I did not 

1 The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser, published 
by Mills and Hicks. 


think it worth while to undertake it I believe I am 
not alone in the Opinion, that some messages might 
easily be answered, & possibly each in " one Day 
only ": But if I had undertaken it, where in the Name 
of common sense would have been the Indecency of 
it ? I know very well that it has been handed as a 
political Creed of late, that the Reasoning of the 
People without Doors is not to be regarded But 
every " transient Person " has a Right publickly to 
animadvert upon whatever is publickly advanc d by 
any Man, and I am resolv d to exercise that Right, 
when I please, without asking any Man s Leave 
And moreover, I am free to say, that if ever a Gov 
ernor s Message should happen to be below the 
Attention of a Scholar, no Person can more aptly 
take Notice of it, that I know of, than 



[Boston Gazette, July 22, 1771: a text is printed in Papers Relating to Public 
Events in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, 1856, pp. 169-177.] 

Nov. 6, 1770. 


The House of Representatives of this his Majesty s 
province, having made choice of you to appear for 

Attributed to Adams by Governor Hutchinson. Hutchinson to Pownall ; 
Public Record Office, Domestic Geo. III., 11:25. Franklin s reply, addressed 
to the Speaker of the House of Representatives under date of December 
24, 1770, is in J. Bigelow, Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin vol. iv., pp. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 47 

them at the court of Great Britain, as there may be 
occasion ; it is necessary that you be well informed of 
the state and circumstances of the province, and the 
grievances we labor under, the redress of which will 
require your utmost attention and application. 

You are sensible that the British parliament have 
of late years thought proper to raise a revenue in 
America without our consent, by divers acts made 
expressly for that purpose ; The reasons and grounds 
of our complaints against those acts, are so well 
known and understood by you, that it is needless for 
us to mention them at this time. 

The measures that have been taken by the Amer 
ican assemblies, to obtain the repeal of these acts, 
tho altogether consistent with the constitution, and 
clearly within the bounds of the Subjects Rights, have 
been nevertheless disgustful to administration ; to < 
whom we have been constantly represented by the ] 
servants of the crown and others on this side the / 
water, in the most disagreeable and odious light. 

Whether this province has been considered as hav 
ing a lead among the other colonies, which they have 
never affected, or whether it is because Governor 
Bernard, the Commissioners of the Customs and 
others, who have discovered themselves peculiarly 
inimical to the Colonies, have had their residences 
here, certain it is, that the resentment of government 
at home has been particularly pointed against this 
province : For it is notorious that we have been 
charged with taking inflammatory measures, tending 
to create unwarrantable combinations, to excite an 
unjustifiable opposition to parliament, and revive 


unhappy divisions among the Colonies ; and we have 
frequently been censured as disobedient to govern 
ment for parts of conduct which have been in no wise 
dissimular to those which have been taken by other 
colonies without the least censure or observation. 

While administration appeared to have conceived 
undue prejudices against us, our enemies have not 
failed to take every measure to increase those preju 
dices ; and particularly by representing to the King s 
ministers, that a spirit of faction had so greatly and 
universally prevailed among us, as that government 
could not be supported, and it was unsafe for the 
officers of the crown to live in the province and 
execute their trusts, without the protection of a 
military force : Such a force they at length obtained ; 
the consequence of which was a scene of confusion & 
distress for the space of seventeen months, which 
ended in the J^lood and slaughter of his Majesty s 
ood subjects. 

It was particularly mortifying to us to see the whole 
system of civil authority in the province, yielding to 
this most dangerous power ; and at the very time 
when the interposition of the civil magistrate was of 
the most pressing necessity, to check the wanton and 
bloody career of the military, the Lieutenant-Governor 
himself declared, as Governor Bernard had before, 
that "he had no authority over the King s troops in 
the province," and his Majesty s representative in 
Council became an humble supplicant for their re 
moval out of the town of Boston ! What would be 
the feelings of our fellow-subjects in Britain, if con 
trary to their Bill of Rights, and indeed to every 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 49 

principle of civil government, soldiers were posted 
even in their capital, without the consent of their Par 
liament ? And yet the subjects of the same Prince 
in America who are entitled to the same freedom, 
are compelled to submit to as great a military power 
as administration shall please to order to be posted 
among them in a time of profound peace, without the 
consent of their assemblies ! And this military power 
is allowed to trample upon the laws of the land, the 
common security, without restraint ! Such an instance 
of absolute uncontroul d military tyranny must needs 
be alarming, to those who have before in some meas 
ure enjoy d, and are still entitled to the blessings of a 
free government, having never forfeited the character 
of loyal subjects. After the fatal tragedy of the fifth 
of March, the regiments under the command of Lieut. 
Colonel Dalrymple were removed from the Town of 
Boston to the Barracks on Castle Island, in conse 
quence of a petition from the town to the Lieutenant 
Governor and his Prayer to the Colonel ; since which, 
in pursuance of Instruction to the Lieut. Governor, 
the garrison there in the pay of the province, is with 
drawn, and a garrison of his Majesty s regular troops 
placed in their stead. And although this exchange 
is made ostensively by the immediate order of the 
lieutenant-governor, yet it appears by the inclosed 
depositions, that Col. Dalrymple in reality took the 
custody and government of the fortress by order of 
general Gage ; and therefore the lieutenant governor 
has no longer that command, which he is vested with 
by the royal charter. 

We cannot help observing upon this occasion, that 

VOL. II. 4. 


the instructions which have of late been given to the 
governor, some of them at least, directly militate, as 
in the present instance, with the charter of the pro 
vince ; And these instructions are not always adapted 
to promote his Majesty s service, or the good of the 
people within this province, but often appear to be 
solely calculated to further and execute the measures, 
and enforce the laws of a different state ; by which 
means his Majesty s colonies may be entirely subjected 
to the absolute will of his other subjects in Great 
Britain, for which there can be no pretence of right, 
but what is founded in mere force. By virtue of 
their positive instructions, the general assembly of 
the province has been remov d from its ancient 
establish d and only convenient seat in Boston, and is 
still obliged to hold its session at Harvard College 
in Cambridge, to the great inconvenience of the 
members and injury of the people, as well as detri 
ment of that seminary of learning, without any reason 
that can be assigned but will and pleasure : And thus 
the prerogative of the King, which is a trust reposed 
in him to be improved only for the welfare of his 
subjects, is perverted to their manifest injury. 

And what is still more grievous is, that the Gov 
ernor of the province is absolutely inhibited, as we 
are told, from laying before the assembly any instruc 
tion, which he receives, even such as carry in them 
the evident marks of his Majesty s displeasure : By 
which means the House of Representatives cannot 
have it in their power to obtain here, that precise 
knowledge of the grounds of our Sovereign s dis 
pleasure, which we are in reason and justice entitled 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 51 

to, nor can the ministry be made responsible for any 
measures they may advise to in order to introduce 
and establish an illegal and arbitrary government 
over his Majesty s subjects in the colonies. We have 
an instance of this kind now before us ; the Lt. Gov 
ernor of the province having in his speech at the 
opening of this session, given a dark intimation of 
something intended against the province, and when 
the House of Representatives earnestly desired him 
to explain it, that they might have a clear understand 
ing of what was intended therein, he declared as he 
had before done in other like cases, that he was not 
at liberty to make public or to communicate by speech 
or message an order from his Majesty in council which 
he had received, although in consequence thereof the 
state of the province was to be laid before parliament. 
By such conduct in the ministry it appears that we 
may be again accus d and censur d by parliament as 
we have heretofore been, and perhaps surfer the 
greatest injury without knowing our accusers or the 
matters that may be alleg d against us. 

At the same time, by an order of parliament that 
the names of persons giving intelligence to the min 
istry which may at any time be laid before parliament, 
shall be made secret even to the members themselves, 
the greatest encouragement is given to persons in 
imical to the province, to send home false relations of 
speeches and proceedings in public assemblies, and 
elsewhere, containing injurious charges upon individ 
uals as well as publick bodies : Some of which have 
been transmitted home under the seal of the province, 
without the least notice given to those individuals, or 


any but the few in the secret to attend and cross- 
examine such witnesses. Thus even parliament itself 
may be misled into measures highly injurious and 
destructive to the province, by the calumny and de 
traction of those who are not and cannot be known, 
and whose falsehoods cannot therefore be detected. 
So wretched is the state of this province, not only 
to be subjected to absolute instructions, given to the 
governor to be the rule of his administration, whereby 
some of the most essential clauses of our charter, 
vesting in him powers to be exercis d for the good of 
the people are totally rescinded, which in reality is a 
state of despotism ; but also, to a standing army, 
which being uncontroul d by any authority within the 
province, must soon tear up the very foundations of 
civil government. 

Moreover we have the highest reason to complain 
that since the late parliamentary regulations of the 
colonies, the jurisdiction of the court of admiralty has 
been extended to so enormous a length, as itself to 
threaten the very being of the constitution : By the 
statute 4th Geo. 3 chap. 15, " All forfeitures and pen 
alties inflicted by this or any other act of parliament 
relating to the trade and plantations in America which 
shall be incur d there, may be prosecuted, sued for and 
recovered in any court of admiralty in the said colo 
nies." Thus a single judge, independent of the 
people, and in a civil law court, is to try these extra 
ordinary forfeitures and penalties without a jury : 
Whereas the same statute provides, that all penalties 
and forfeitures which shall be incurred in Great 
Britain, shall be prosecuted, sued for and recovered in 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 53 

any of his Majesty s courts of record, in Westminster 
or in the court of exchequer in Scotland respec 
tively. Here is the most unreasonable and unjust 
distinction, made between the subjects in Britain and 
America ; as tho it were designed to exclude us from 
the least share in that clause of Magna-Charta, which 
has for many centuries been the noblest bulwark of 
the English liberties, & which cannot be too often / 
repeated ; " No freeman shall be taken or imprison d 
or disseiz d of his freehold, or liberties, or free cus 
toms, or be outlawed, or exil d, or any otherwise de 
stroyed, nor will we pass upon him nor condemn him, 
but by the judgment of his peers or the law of the 

These are some of the insupportable grievances 
which this province has long been laboring under, 
and which still remain altogether unredressed : For 
although they have been set forth in the clearest 
manner by humble petitions to the throne, yet such 
an ascendency over us have the officers of the crown 
here in the minds of administration, that our com 
plaints are scarcely heard ; our very petitions are 
deemed factious, and .instead of obtaining any relief, 
our oppressions have been more aggravated, & we 
have reason to apprehend will be still increased. 

For by the best intelligence from England, we are 
under strong apprehensions that by virtue of an act 
of parliament of the 7 Geo. 3. 1 which impowers his 
Majesty to appropriate a part of the revenue raised 
in America, for the support of civil government, and 
the administration of justice in such colonies where he 

1 Chap. 46. 


shall judge it necessary, administration is determined 
to bestow large salaries upon the attorney-general, 
judges and governor of this province ; whereby they 
will be made not only altogether independent of the 
people, but wholly dependent upon the ministry for 
their support. These appointments will be justly ob 
noxious to the other colonies, and tend to beget and 
keep up a perpetual discontent among them ; for they 
will deem it unjust as well as unnecessary to be 
oblig d to bear a part of the support of government 
in this province, and even in the courts of law ; 
especially if designs are also meditating to make other 
important alterations in our Charter, by appointing 
the Council from home, &c. whereby the executive 
will be rendered absolute, and the legislative totally 
ineffectual to any valuable purpose. The assembly 
is in all reason sufficiently dependent already upon 
the Crown : The one branch annually for its being, 
as it is subject to the negative of the Governor ; and 
both the branches for every grant and appropriation 
of their money, and also for their whole defence and 
security, as he is Captain-General, and has by Charter 
the sole military command within the province : All 
civil officers are either nominated and appointed by him 
with the advice and consent of his Majesty s Council, 
or if elected they are subject to his negative : And our 
laws, after being consented to by his Majesty s Govern 
or, are by the first opportunity from the making thereof, 
to be transmitted to his Majesty for his approbation or 
disallowance : Three years they are subject to the revi 
sion of the crown lawyers in Britain, who may always 
be strangers to our internal polity, & sometimes dis- 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 55 

affected to us : And at any time within the three 
years, His Majesty in his privy council may, if he 
thinks proper, reject them, and then they become ut 
terly void. Surely the parliament of Great Britain 
cannot wish for greater checks, both upon the legisla 
tive and executive of a colony, unless we are to be 
considered as bastards and not Sons. A step further 
will reduce us to absolute subjection. If administra 
tion is resolved to continue such measures of severity, 
the colonies will in time consider the mother-state as 
utterly regardless of their welfare : Repeated acts of 
unkindness on one side, may by degrees abate the 
warmth of affection on the other, and a total aliena 
tion may succeed to that happy union, harmony and 
confidence, which has subsisted, and we sincerely wish 
may always subsist : If Great Britain, instead of 
treating us as their fellow-subjects, shall aim at mak 
ing us their vassals and slaves, the consequence will 
be, that although our merchants have receded from 
their non-importation agreement, yet the body of the 
people will vigorously endeavor to become indepen 
dent of the mother-country for supplies, and sooner 
than she may be aware of it, will manufacture for 
themselves. The colonists, like healthy young sons, 
have been chearfully building up the parent state, 
and how far Great Britain will be affected, if they 
should be rendered even barely useless to her, is an 
object which we conceive is at this very juncture 
worth the attention of a British Parliament. 

Your own acquaintance with this province, and 
your well known attachment to it, will lead you to 
exert all your powers in its defence : And as the 


Council have made choice of William Bollan, Esq ; 
for their agent, you will no doubt confer with him, 
and concert such measures as will promote our com 
mon interest : Your abilities we greatly confide in ; 
but if you shall think it for the advantage of the pro 
vince to consult with and employ council learned in 
the law, the importance of your agency will be a 
motive sufficient for us to acquiesce in such expence 
on that account, as your own judgment shall dictate 
to you to be necessary. 

Included are the proceedings of his Majesty s 
Council of this province, upon an affidavit of Mr. 
Secretary Oliver, which this House apprehend has a 
tendency to make a very undue impression on the 
minds of his Majesty s ministers and others, respect 
ing the temper and disposition of the people, previous 
to the tragical transaction of the fifth of March last : 
You are therefore desired to make such use of them 
as shall prevent such unhappy consequences from 
taking effect. 

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Nov r 16 1770 


I should before now have acknowledgd your favor 
of the 5 June, 2 but my being obligd to attend the 
Session of the General Court for 7 weeks 3 & other 

1 A resident of London, and at one time sheriff ; his relations with the 
colonists appear in the letters printed in this volume. 

2 A copy is in S. A. Wells, Samuel Adams and the American Revolution^ 
vol. i., pp. 293, 294. 

3 The session began September 26 and ended November 20. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 57 

necessary Avocations prevented it. I return the 
Letters signd Junius Americanus deliverd to me by 
M r Gary, 1 by your direction to be a valueable present. 
The Author has servd the American Cause in a man 
ner in which I have long wishd some able pen would 
have undertaken to do it by appealing to the good 
Sense of the Body of the Nation. I believe the gen 
eral Inclination there is to wish that we may preserve 
our Liberties ; and perhaps even the Ministry could 
for some Reasons find it in their hearts to be willing 
that we sh d be restord to the State we were in before 
the passing of the Stamp Act, were it not that a Set 
of detestable Men were continually writing from hence 
that we sh d carry our Claims still higher & there w d 
be no Bounds to our Demands. I can venture to as 
sure you that there is no Foundation for such Asser 
tions, nor do I think they are really believd by any. 
The People here are indeed greatly tenacious of their 
just Rights & I hope in God they will ever firmly 
maintain them. Every Attempt to enforce the plan 
of Despotism will certainly irritate them; While they 
have a Sense of freedom they will oppose the Efforts 
of Tyranny ; and altho the Mother Country may at 
present boast of her Superiority over them, she may 
perhaps find the Want of that Superiority, when by 
repeated provocations she shall have totally lost their 
Affections. All Good Men surely wish for a cordial 
Harmony between the two Country s. Great Britain 
can lose Nothing which she ought to retain by restor 
ing the Americans to their former State, & they I am 

1 Probably Richard Gary, of Charlestown, Mass. Letters by him are in 
Papers Relating to Public Events in Massachusetts, pp. 113, 122, 124. 


satisfied will no further contend ; While the Struggle 
continues Manufactures will still increase in America 
in spite of all Efforts to prevent it ; & how far Britain 
will be injurd by it, ought certainly to be well con- 
siderd on your side the Atlantick. 

Our Merchants have receded from their Nonim 
portation Agreement. They held it much longer 
than I ever thought they would or could. It was a 
grand Tryal which pressd hard upon their private In 
terest. But the Landholders find it for their Interest 
to manufacture and it is their happy Consideration 
that while they are most effectually serving their 
Country they are adding to their private fortunes. 
The representatives of the people have this day agreed 
to promote Manufactures in their respective Towns, 
& the House have appointed a special Committee 1 to 
form a plan for the effectual Encouragement of Arts 
Agriculture Manufactures & Commerce in this pro 
vince ; & even the Administration of a Bernard could 
not tend more to sharpen the Edge of resentment 
which will perpetually keep alive the Spirit of Manu 
factures than that which we are now blessd with. L c 
Governor Hutchinson, more plausible indeed than 
Bernard, seems resolvd to push the same plan & the 
people plainly see that a Change of Men is not likely 
to produce a Change of Measures so soon are the 
Words of the one verified when he said of the other 
that he could rely upon him as he could on himself. 

Our House of Representatives have been indued 
to do Business this Session, against their former re 
monstrances, principally from a Necessity which they 

1 On November 16 ; Samuel Adams was a member of the committee. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 59 

apprehended they were under of attending to what 
m l be doing on your Side the Water. They ac 
cordingly chose an Agent. I gave my Suffrage with 
about a third part of the House, for D r Lee but D r 
Franklin being personally known to many of the 
Members had the preference both the Gentlemen 
were highly spoken of in the House, & afterwards 
D r Lee was appointed to the Trust, by a very full 
vote in Case of the Death or Absence of D r Franklin. 
Our State Tryals as we may call them have at length 
come on. Preston is acquitted by a Jury ! l It is to 
be remarkd that the Baker of the Regiment, who in 
deed w d have had himself excusd, and three others 
were put on as Talesmen Preston having challengd 
Eighteen. One of the three was a known Intimate 
of Prestons and another had declared before that if 
he was to be of the Jury he w d sit till Doomsday 
before he w d consent to a Verdict ag l him. Evidence to 
prove that the Soldiers were the Aggressors of which 
there was plenty was not admitted. The main Ques 
tion was whether he orderd the Men to fire diverse 
persons swore positively that he did, but they differing 
about the Circumstance of his Dress, & others swear 
ing, one that he was very near him & did not hear 
him give the orders, & others that some other person 
unknown gave them, operated, in his favor. But no 
Weight that I can learn was given, to full proof that 
he led the Soldiers armd with loaded Musquets & 
Bayonets. This he had a Right, nay it was his Duty 
to do, because the Centinel was in Danger & we must 

1 The stenographic report of Preston s trial was sent to England, but never 
published in America. Works of John Adams, vol. ii., p. 236. 


presume the People were the Aggressors. This Prin 
ciple I suppose will clear the Soldiers whose Tryals 
begin on Tuesday next. 1 Richardson who was con 
victed of the Murder of young Snider so long ago 
as March, remains unhangd, the Court not having 
yet determind upon his Motion for another Tryal. 
You may easily observe that we have catchd the im 
partial Spirit of the Kings friends, a synonimous term 
for friends of Gov 1 here, from the Mother Country. 
I had not the opportunity of attending Prestons 
Tryal, but am in hopes of having a minute Acco of it 
from a sensible Gentleman who was present if I can 
obtain it I will write you more precisely upon the 

Before I conclude I must mention to you that the 
Minister has taken a Method which in my Opinion 
has a direct tendency to set up a despotism here, or 
rather is the thing it self and that is by sending In 
structions to the Governor to be the rule of his Ad 
ministration & forbiding him as the Gov r declares to 
make them known to us, the Design of which may be 
to prevent his ever being made responsible for any 
measures he may advise in order to introduce & estab 
lish arbitrary power over the Colonies. M r Hutchin- 
son has pushd this point with all the Vigour of Bernard, 
which has occasiond warm messages between him & 
the Assembly as you may observe in the Boston 
Gazette for several Weeks past. But of this I shall 
be more particular in my next. 

1 The Trial of the British Soldiers of the 2gth Regiment of Foot was 
published at Boston in 1770, 1807 and 1824, and was reprinted in History of 
the Boston Massacre, Albany, 1870, pp. 123-285. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 61 

I shall be proud of an epistolary Correspondence 
with you, and with D r Lee to whom tho personally 
unknown to him I beg you w d make my Compliments. 
I am with strict truth. 


[Journal of the House of Representatives, 7770-7777, p. 175 ; the text is also 
in Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts, vol. v., p. 348.] 

November 20, 1770. 

The House of Representatives have heretofore 
view d with Concern the deplorable State of the Mili 
tia of this Province. But have hitherto refrained from 
any public mention of it least some Misconstruction 
should be put upon it. 

But by the last Advices from Great-Britain, the 
Nations of Europe appear to be upon the Eve of a 
general War ; and perhaps America may be the Object 
in the Eye of some of those Nations. 

And when some of the Regiments within this Pro 
vince are destitute of Field-Officers, and many Com 
panies without Captains or Subalterns, the Arms of 
the Militia we fear are deficient, and military Dis 
cipline too much neglected. 

Duty to his Majesty, and a Regard to our own Safety 
constrain us to Address your Honor, praying that you 

1 On November 19, 1770, Samuel Adams was appointed a member of a com 
mittee to draft a message to the Lieutenant Governor with reference to the 
vacancies in the militia. On the following day Adams reported to the House 
a draft, which was accepted. 


would be pleased (as soon as may be) to fill up the 
Vacancies in the several Regiments (wherever such 
Vacancies are) with such Persons as to your Honor 
shall seem meet : And that your Honor would be 
pleased to use your Endeavours that the several 
Officers carefully Discharge the Trust reposed in them. 
And should any Amendments in, or Addition to the 
Laws for regulating the Militia of this Province be 
thought needful, at the next Session of the General 
Court the House of Representatives will chearfully 
do all in their Power towards putting the Militia on a 
respectable Footing. 

[Boston Gazette, November 26, 1770.] 

I HAVE thought of several things that have taken 

place since the present a n l began, which must 

needs have given sensible pleasure to every friend of 
this province, and possibly were alluded to in a late 
pr n. 2 In the first place, the friends of govern 
ment have so far prevailed against the faction, as to 
get the non-importation plan broke thro , which had 
for so long time embarrassed the Ministry in their 
laudable efforts to Establish A Revemie in the colonies. 
The consequence of this, it is hoped, will be, that the 
worthy Commissioners of the customs will be con 
tinued ; and the troops which have so eminently pro 
tected the lives, and reformed the morals of the people, 

1 Administration. 2 Proclamation. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 63 

will be reinstated ; so that the well-affected may enjoy 
their places and Pensions without molestation from 
the vulgar. In the next place, our Castle- William is 
taken out of the hands of the rude natives, and put 
under the government of regular forces ; this was 
an admirable manoeuvre, which has occasioned the 
highest joy in the friends of government, (thank his 
- for it) and in proportion damp d the spirits of 
the faction. And then, such a grand appearance of 
tall ships of war in our capital harbour, which were 
certainly designed to show us the marks of the great 
est respect, (for what other end could the wise minis 
try have had in view) and may serve to make up for 
the loss of troops, if we should unfortunately not be 
favoured with more ! There is also the advantage 

which his H r the Lt. G r must reap from 

some late instructions, which, no doubt, " are founded 
in wise reasons," whereby the great defects in our 
Charter, which the friends of government have been 
long complaining of, may be supply d. I might men 
tion also, a late remarkable deliverance from death 
and danger, (blessed a-m n !) for it would have 
been a great discouragement to the efforts of govern 
ment. But no more these may be thought to be 
matters of great thankfulness, and may suitably em 
ploy our minds at the approaching solemnity. 

Your s 


CAMBRIDGE, Nov. 20, 1770. 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Nov r 21 1770 


Ever since I rec d your fav r of Sept 22 2 I have 
been incessantly employd in the Gen 1 Assembly 
which met agr cable to Instructions at Harfvard] 
Coll[ege] in Cam[bridge]. This I hope will be some 
Apology for my not acknowleging it before. 

I had rec d a Letter from M r John Neufville Chair 
man of the Com 6 of Merch ts in Charlestown, inclosing 
Letters for the Sons of Liberty in Boston Connecti- 
cutt & N Hampshire. The two last of which I for 
warded as soon as possible to such Gent n in the 
respective places as I judgd worthy so excellent a 
Character. That which was directed for Boston I 
unseald, professing my self a Son of Liberty but found 
it was designd for the Trade, with whom I was not con 
nected, but as an Auxiliary in their Nonimportation 
Agreement. I therefore deliverd it to the Chairman 
of the Com 6 here, and it was read with very great 
Approbation, in a large Meeting of the Body of 
the people. I desire you w d make my Comp ts and 
Apology to M r Neufville. I verily believd that the 
Com 6 of Merchants had duly honord his Letter by 
returning an Answer to it, as they had orderd it to 
be publishd in our news papers ; and I candidly 
suppose they had the same Expectation from me 
which may be the occasion that the Letter remaind 

1 Of Charleston, South Carolina. 

2 Asking why an earlier letter of the Charleston committee had not been an 
swered. A copy of Timothy s letter is in S. A. Wells, Samuel Adams and the 
American Revolution, vol. i., p. 292. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 65 

The Nonimportation Agreem 1 since the Defection 
of New York is entirely at an end. From the Be- 
gining I have been apprehensive it w d fall short of 
our Wishes. It was continued much beyond my Ex 
pectation : There are here & I suppose every where, 
men interrested enough to render such a plan abor 
tive. Thro the Influence of the Com 6 & Tories 
here, Boston has been made to appear in an odious 
Light ; but I w d not have you believe it to be the 
true Light. The Merch ts in general have punctually 
abode by their Agreem , to their very great private 
loss ; Some few have found means to play a dishonor 
able Game without Detection, tho the utmost pains 
have been taken. The Body of the people remaind 
firm till the Merch ts receded. I am very sorry that 
the Agreem 1 was ever enterd into as it has turnd 
out ineffectual. Let us then ever forget that there 
has been such a futile Combination, & awaken our 
Attention to our first grand object. Let the Colonies 
still convince their implacable Enemies, that they are 
united in constitutional Principles, and are resolvd 
they will not be Slaves ; that their Dependance is not 
upon Merch ts or any particular Class of men, nor is 
their dernier resort, a resolution barely to withhold 
Commerce, with a nation that w d subject them to des 
potic Power. Our house of reps [sic] have appointed 
a Corn 6 to correspond with our friends in the other 
Colonies, 1 & AMERICAN MANUFACTURES sh d be the 
constant Theme. 

Our young men seem of late very ambitious of 
making themselves masters of the art MILITARY. 

1 Consisting of Samuel Adams, John Adams, Hancock, Hall and Gushing ; 
appointed November 7, 1770. 

VOL. II. 5. 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON 23 Nov r 1770 


Capt Scott being detaind by a contrary Wind, and 
the General Assembly being now prorogud, 1 I have an 
Opportunity of writing in Addition to my Letter of 
the 1 6 Inst 1 & by the same Conveyance. 

As soon as I heard of the Death of our worthy 
Friend M r De Berdt, I was determind, if the House 
should come to the Choice of an Agent, to give my 
Vote for yourself ; and I was confirmd in my Resolu 
tion when I found by your Letter of the 5 June 2 that 
such an Appointm 1 would be agreable to you. But 
being afterwards told by a Friend of yours that you 
were desirous yourself that D r Lee might be chosen, 
which by no means lessened my Opinion of your 
Merit, & having also a great Opinion of D r Lee, I 
thought myself happy in a Conclusion that your In 
clination perfectly coincided with my own Judgment. 
At the same time, such was my Opinion of your hon 
est Zeal for the Rights of America and of your Ability 
to defend them that I could with equal Satisfaction 
have voted for M r Sayer. I am perfectly of your 
Opinion that no man sh d be the object of our Choice 
who holds any place at the Will of the present Admin 
istration ; how far the House have been influencd by 
this Principle you are able to judge. 

1 The prorogation, on November 20, was until January 23, 1771; the next 
session actually began April 3, 1771. 

2 Delivered by Richard Gary. A copy is in S. A. Wells, Samuel Adams and 
the American Revolution, vol. i., pp. 293, 294. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 67 

You will observe by the inclosd papers, to how 
great a degree ministerial Instructions are enforcd 
here. They not only prescribe to the Assembly which 
ought to be free the forms of Legislation in the most 
essential Parts, but even annihilate the Powers of the 
Gov r vested in him by Charter. 1 Could it possibly be 
imagind that a man who is bone of our Bone, & flesh 
of our flesh who boasts that his Ancestors were of 
the first Rank & figure in the Country, who has had 
all the Honors lavishly heapd upon him which his 
Fellow Citizens had it in their power to bestow, who 
with all the Arts of personal Address professes the 
strongest Attachm 1 to his native Country & the most 
tender feeling for its Rights. Could it be imagind that 
such a Man sh d be so lost to all sense of Gratitude 
& publick Love, as to aid the Designs of despotick 
power for the sake of rising a single step higher. 

"Who would not weep if such a Man there be 
Who would not weep if H n were he." 

Aut C<zsar aut nulhis, is inscribd on the Hearts 
of some Men who have neither Caesars Learning nor 
Courage. Caesar three times refusd the Crown ; His 
Heart & his Tongue evidently gave each other the 
Lye. Our modern Great Man, would fain have it 
thought that he has refusd a Government, which his 
Soul is every day panting after & without the Pos 
session of which his Ambition & Lust of Power will 
perpetually torment him. 

The Intelligence in Your Letter of the 18 Sept r 
which I have just now with pleasure receivd, does not 

1 At this point the words " Good God ! " are crossed out. 


at all surprize me " His former Letters" "wrote 
before Bernard embarkd for England" "have been 
equally oppugnant to the Form of your Gov " And 
yet this very Man gives out, that in six months, the 
Province will be convincd that his Letters are written 
in defence of our Charter ! So I remember Bernard 
himself, not long before his own Letters returnd, de- 
clard to both Houses of Assembly, that if he was at 
Liberty to make publick the Letters he had written 
to the several Boards in favor of the Province, his 
Enemies w d blush. Why does not this Man make 
his Letters publick ? Would not a Roman Senator 
have seizd the opportunity of appeasing the Jealousys 
of the angry Citizens ? But the Body of the people 
are contemptible. 1 This People who know not the 
Law are accursed, said a haughty Jewish priest. It 
has been his Principle from a Boy, that Mankind are 
to be governd by the discerning few and it has ever 
since been his Ambition to be the Hero 2 of the few. 
I have long since been of your Opinion that few 
great Men in Britain are entitled to an American Con 
fidence They will all in their Turns clamour for us 
while it is their Interest so to do. It is the Business 
of America to take Care of herself her salvation as 
you justly observe depends upon her own Virtue. 
Arts & Manufactures aided by Commerce have raised 
Great Britain to its present Pitch of Grandeur. Amer 
ica will avail herself by imitating her. We have already 
seen her troops and as we have a Prospect of a War 

1 Before alteration, this sentence read : " But the Body of the people are too 
contemptible to be favord with a Sight of them." 

2 Originally "Head." 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 69 

I hope I may safely tell you that our young Men begin 
to be ambitious of making themselves perfect Masters 
of the Art military. Amidst the innumerable Evils 
which we complain of from the bad policy of your 
Ministry, this is the happy Effect of Britains 
transplanting her Arms into America. 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text, with variations, is in W. 
V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., pp. 341, 342.] 

BOSTON Novr 23 1770 

When you embarkd for London I promisd you 
I would write by the next Ship. I did not write but 
it was owing to incessant Avocations at Cambridge & 
not to an unmindfulness of my promise or a Want of 
Inclination to fulfil it. I hope ere now you are safe 
arrivd. You are then a Sojourner in one of the most 
opulent and most luxurious Cities in the World. 
Musick is your dear Delight there your taste will 
be improvd. But I fear that Discord will too often 
discompose you, and the rude Clamors against your 
Country will vex you. I rely upon it that your own 
good Sense will dictate to you that which will suffi 
ciently vindicate your Country against foul Aspersion 
whenever you may meet with it ; and I cannot enter 
tain the least Doubt but you are possessd with all 
that patriotick Zeal which will for ever warm the 
Breast of an ingenuous young Gentleman. Such a 
Zeal temperd with a manly Prudence will render you 


respectable in political Circles of Men of Sense. I 
am sure you will never condescend to be a Compan 
ion of Fools. After telling you what I know will be 
agreable to you, that your friends are well, you must 
allow me to plead haste & conclude at present with 
my best Wishes for your Prosperity. 

[Boston Gazette, December 3, 1770.] 

We should all remember that British America was well affected to 
the nation till MINISTERIAL INNOVATIONS occasioned these 
Difficulties. Anon. 

Instead of submitting to MINISTERIAL GUIDANCE, they seem so 
far led away by common Sense, and their Regard for the 
common Welfare, that they have no Reverence for the IN 
STRUCTIONS and REFINEMENTS of our Ministers. Ibid. 

Messieurs PRINTERS, 

SOME time ago I took the liberty of making a few 
remarks in my poor manner, upon a Speech deliver d 
at the close of a session of the General Assembly : 
I then thought, and still think that I had good 
right and lawful authority so to do, notwithstanding 
the rebuke which the venerable Mr. Probus 1 then 
"thought fit" to give me. In imitation of some of 
my brethren, I solemnly warned my readers, by way 
of application, of the danger of certain Instructions, 
or as they were term d, "ministerial mandates" we 
had about that time been told of ; which appear d to 
me to be equal to that of revenue acts, or standing 

1 See above, p. 43. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 71 

armies to enforce them: I little thought that these 
instructions, or mandates, call them what you will, 
would in their effects have made so rapid a progress, 
in so short a time, as I find they have since the present 
administration began : For I perceive that our house 
of representatives have plainly told the Lt. Governor 
that " merely in obedience to instructions, he has 
made an absolute surrender of Castle William to his 
Majesty s forces, with a most express resignation of 
his power of garrisoning the same to Lt. Col. Dal- 
rymple": and to prove it they recite his Honor s 
orders under his own hand, to Capt. Phillips, to de 
liver that Fort into the hands of the commanding 
officer of his Majesty s regular forces then upon the 
island, to be garrison d by such detachment as he 
should order \ To this indeed his honor says, " There 
is nothing in the orders which I gave to Capt. 
Phillips, which does not perfectly consist with my 
retaining the command of the Castle, and my right to 
exchange the present garrison for the former or any 
other, as I shall think proper": But I must confess, 
it is mysterious to me, how his Honor can retain the 
Right to dismiss Col. Dalrymple and his detachment, 
when he pleases, or exchange the present garrison for 
any other as he shall think proper, after having de 
livered the fort without any reservation, into the 
hands of Col. Dalrymple, in consequence of express 
orders from another, to be garrison d by such detach 
ment as he shall order. I am not so certain that his 
Honor, who pays a sacred regard to instructions, will 
easily be perswaded to exchange the present garrison 
for the former, or any other, however necessary such 


exchange may be, without first having leave from the 
right Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough, as full and 
express as the orders he receiv d from his lordship to 
place the present garrison there Others may recon 
cile an absolute delegation of power without any re 
serve, by the express orders of a superior, with a right 
retain d in the person who is thiis order d to delegate, 
to exercise the same power when he pleases ; I have 
not that intuitive knowledge which some men are said 
to be bless d with, and therefore it will not be thought 
strange if I do not see clearly through this mystery 
in Politics. The house further observe, that " as 
his Honor has heretofore repeatedly declared that 
he has no authority over the King s troops in the 
province, 1 it was absurd to suppose he could have the 
command of a fort, thus unreservedly surrendered to, 
and in full possession of such troops " : Which ap 
pears to be a just conclusion ; for can any one believe 
that Col. Dalrymple will hold himself oblig d to 
march the King s troops under his command out of 
that fort, in obedience to the orders of one who 
has no authority over them ? Think not, Mess. 
Printers, that I am now finding fault : For if his 
Honor has " in this instance divested himself of a 
power of governing which is vested in him by the 
Charterer the safety of the province ", as wiser heads 
than mine have determin d, who WILL DARE to 
find fault? It was done by virtue of instructions; 
and we are told that instructions from a minister of 

1 The identical words used by that warm friend to this province, the 
colonies, the nation and all men but himself, Sir F. B. of Nettleham, 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 73 

state come mediately from the K , and his Honor 

knows that instructions, whatever " coarse epithet " 
may have been bestow d upon them, are " founded in 
very wise reasons ", and ought not to be treated with 
contempt HOLT, SOMERS and others, who near eighty 
years ago laid their heads together to form our 
Charter, were certainly wise and great men ; and 
King William who gave it was as certainly a wise 
and good King : But does not the wisdom of my 
Lord of H h far exceed theirs? Pray, does 
not every measure which he has advis d, fully evince 
this to the conviction of all but a few factious fel 
lows here and there. The friends of government are 
willing to submit what judgment they have to such 
profound wisdom ; and what if our old fashion 
Charter should be pared down by instructions, and 

a power or two of the G r, vested in him for 

the safety of the people, should even be annihilated 
by them, we are only to believe there are very wise 
reasons for it, and we shall find that all is for the 

But it is said that " Mr. Hall the late chaplain 
(whose deposition was also taken) has not only not 
given the House the form of words in which his 
Honor committed the ciistody of the Castle " accord 
ing to the Charter " to Col. Dalrymple, but has sub 
stituted words which carry a very different meaning." 
It is strange that Mr. Hall, whom his Honor di 
rected to attend him I suppose as a witness should 
so grosly mistake the meaning of the words. But 
whatever he may lack in comprehension, memory or 
veracity, he shall, if he likes it, be touch d up with the 


reputation of a very modest kind of gentleman ; "he 
has with great modesty declared that he could not 
recollect the words " Mr. Hall s expression is, " Per 
haps I may not recollect the words exactly " ; and 
" could only recollect the impression they made upon 
his mind" Here again we find Mr. Hall s expression 
to be, " This as far as I can recollect is the impres 
sion they made upon my mind." He spoke upon 
memory, and if he delivered the substance of what he 
heard, his not being certain that he recollected the 
words exactly, is not material What then is the sub 
stance as deliver d by Mr. Hall under oath, who has 
the character both of an honest and a sensible man, 
altho it is said that he substituted words which con 
vey a very different meaning ? It is this ; " By virtue 
of authority deriv d from his Majesty to govern this 
province, and in consequence of express orders from 
the Right Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough to deliver 
this fort into the hands of the commanding officer of 
the King s troops now upon the island to be gar- 
rison d by such detachment or detachments as he shall 
think proper I deliver these keys to you as command 
ing officer". If his Honor has a copy of the exact 
form of words, and will favor the publick with it, we 
shall be able to judge where the difference is, and 
whether " in our opinion " it is material. Perhaps 
the words "according to the Charter" which I ob 
serve are comma d in his Honor s reply as emphati- 
cal, are omitted by Mr. Hall : But if they are a part 
of the form of words, the house seem to have fully 
taken them up by affirming that his Honor has no 
authority either by the Charter or his commission to 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 75 

delegate the power of garrisoning the Castle to any 
other person : And "that the shew of the authority 
of the Governor thus held up serv d only to make the 
surrender the more solemn and formal." If then he 
had no such authority to do it either by Charter or 
Commission, how could he do it by virtue of the 
authority deriv d from his Majesty to govern the 
province ? unless that authority is deriv d to him to 
govern, solely by the "express orders from the Rt. 
Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough " If so, where in 
deed " is the freedom of the Governor of this pro 
vince " : I desire to know, how his Honor in delivering 
the keys of the Castle and the power of garrisoning it 
to Col. Dalrymple, can be suppos d to have exercis d 
his own judgment and election, when he declares he 
did it in consequence of express orders from another ? 
And that other does not appear to be his Majesty, 
but the Right Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough The 
whole matter that could exercise his judgment, as it 
appears to me, must have been whether he should de 
liver the fort to Col. Dalrymple to be garrison d by 
such detachment of the regular forces as he should 
think proper, in obedience to the express orders of 
Lord Hillsborough, or retain the Right of committing 
the custody and government thereof to such person 
or persons as to him should seem meet, by virtue of 
the authority deriv d from his Majesty to govern 
the province according to the express terms of the 

I may venture to say, there has not been an instance 
of this kind since the date of our Charter ; and in the 
opinion of judicious and unprejudiced persons, it is a 


matter of very great moment. Our enemies may 
now have the pleasure of seeing the principal fort & 
key of the province in the hands of persons who have 
not the least dependance upon it ; the capital en- 
viron d with ships of war ; the General Assembly re 
moved from its ancient seat, into the country ; and 
the College, which has been liberally supported by the 
people for the education of our youth, has been made 
a seat of government, under a pretence, as it is said, 
of a prerogative in the Crown, to take up any public 
buildings ; All by virtue of instructions, which we 
are implicitly to believe are founded in wise reasons ; 
while the people thro out the province, whether they 
are sensible of it or not, are every day contributing to 
a revenue rais d by the act of a legislature in which 
they are not and cannot be represented, and against 
their most earnest petitions and warmest remon 
strances ! Surely these are not the blessings of 
adm n for which we are this week to return to Al 
mighty God our unfeigned thanks. 

When the public observe that the House had 
ordered Mr. Hall s deposition to be published at 
large, and that his Honor was didy notified to be 
present at the caption, perhaps it may be thought 
that the mention that is made of the " care industri 
ously taken by the House to omit the reserve" Mr. 
Hall had made, because it " did not suit their pur 
pose ", might have been spared. Its not suiting their 
purpose, might be a sufficient reason for their omitting 
it: But possibly his Honoris manner of introducing 
it, may be taken by some " to convey a very different 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 77 

As to " the formality of delivering the keys of the 
fort," I suppose it to have been in much the same 
form of words, as is used, when a governor who is re 
called, delivers them to another who is to succeed 
him in the government of the province by his Ma 
jesty s appointment. Col. Dalrymple accepted them 
" in consequence of orders from General Gage," with 
out recognizing any subordination to his Honor. 
Whether he will ever deliver them to any person, but 
such as may claim more authority over the King s 
troops in the province than the Lieutenant Governor 
has, I very much doubt. You shall hear from me 

In the mean while, I am yours, 


[Boston Gazette, December 10, 1770.] 


THE trial of Capt. Preston and the Soldiers who 
were indicted for the murder of Messrs. Gray, Ma 
verick, Caldwell, Carr and Attucks, on the fatal fifth 
of March last, occasions much speculation in this 
Town : And whatever may be the sentiments of 
men of the coolest minds abroad, concerning the issue 
of this trial, we are not to doubt, but the Court, l the 
Jury, the Witnesses, and the Council on both sides, 
have conscienciously acquitted themselves : To be 

1 The published report, cited above, p. 60, contains the charge to the jury as 
given only by Judge Trowbridge and Judge Oliver. All that is extant of Judge 
Lynde s charge to the jury is printed in The Diaries of Benjamin Lynde and of 
Benjamin Lynde, Jr., pp. 228-230. 

7 8 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

sure, no one in his senses will venture to affirm the 

I am free to declare my opinion, that a cause of so 
great importance, not only to this town, but to all his 
Majesty s subjects, especially to the inhabitants of 
cities and sea-port towns ; who are expos d to have 
troops posted among them, whenever the present ad 
ministration shall take it into their heads in his Ma 
jesty s name to send them ; such a cause, I say, ought 
to be fairly stated to the public ; that we may from 
thence learn how far we are bound to submit to every 
band of soldiers we may meet with in the streets, and 
in what instances we may venture to interpose and 
prevent their murdering those whom we may think to 
be innocent persons without being liable to be cen 
sured for acting unlawfully, if we escape with our 
lives, or charg d with bringing our blood on our own 
heads, if we should fall victims to their rage and 

It was a question put by the chief magistrate of 
this province to the officer who commanded on that 
bloody evening, " Did you not know that you should 
not have fired without the order of a civil magis 
trate ". And it was sworn in court in the case of 
Capt. Preston, that he answered, " I did it to save my 
Sentry " : But whatever his answer was, or however 
" unsatisfactory " to his Honor, the question plainly 
implies that it was the judgment of his Honor, that 
the soldiers could not justify themselves in firing 
upon the people without the order of the civil magis 
trate. Yet they did fire without such orders, and 
killed five of his Majesty s good subjects ; most, 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 79 

if not all of whom were at that time, for aught that 
has yet appear d, in the peace of God and the King ! 
They not only fired without the orders of the civil 
magistrate, but they never called for one, which they 
might easily have done They went down of their 
own accord, arm d with musquets, and bayonets fix d, 
presuming that they were cloath d with as much au 
thority by the law of the land, as the Posse Comita- 
tus of the county with the high sheriff at their head 
How little regard is due to the word of a m r, who 
who would fain have flatter d us into a belief that the 
troops were sent here to aid the civil magistrate, and 
were never to act without one ? And let me observe, 
how fatal are the effects, the danger of which I long ago 
mention d, of posting a standing army among a free 
people ! 

If his Honor was not mistaken in his judgment, 
and I presume he was not, viz. that it was unlawful 
for them to fire without the order of the civil magis 
trate, they were certainly from the beginning, at least 
very imprudent and fool-hardy, in going down, arm d 
as they were, with weapons of death, without the 
direction of the civil magistrate ; especially, if they 
intended to fire, if they should judge there should be 
occasion for it, as I think it is manifest they did. 
When Captain Preston was asked, Whether the sol 
diers intended to fire, he answer d they could not fire 
without his orders : No one will pretend that they 
had not strength or skill to pull their trickers ; but by 
the rules of the army, their own rules, they were re 
strained from firing till he first gave them orders : 
Yet contrary to those very rules they all did fire ; all 


but one, and he did all he could to fire, for his gun 
flush d in the pan it is said that when it was urg d 
by the council for the crown, that by the rules of law 
they ought to have retreated if they were in danger 
of their lives ; it was answered, that by the rules of 
the army they were chain d as it were to their post- 
that they dared not to retreat without the orders of 
their captain that in so doing they would have * ex- 
pos d themselves to a sentence of death in a court 
martial : Yet we have it from great authority that 
they would have been distracted if they had not fired, 
upon a supposition that they were in danger ; altho 
by the same rules of war they could not have fired 
any more than they could have retreated, till the cap 
tain order d them ; and they expos d themselves to 
be shot by the sentence of a court martial if they did 
fire, as much as they would have done if they had 
retreated without his order Certainly it will not be 
said, it was more becoming the bravery of a British 
soldier, to stand his ground against the subjects of 
his own King, and kill them upon the spot, than to 
have retreated and deserted the glorious cause, and 
thus have saved the lives of his Majesty s subjects. 

The behavior of the party as they went from the 
main guard discover d an haughty air they push d 
their bayonets and damn d the people as they went 
along and when they arriv d at their post, one wit 
ness who is a young gentleman of a liberal education 
and an unspotted character, declared, that when they 
came down there were about ten persons round the 
sentry that one of the prisoners whom he particu 
larly named, loaded his gun, pushed him with his 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 81 

bayonet and damn d him that about fifty or sixty 
persons came down with the party, and that he did 
not observe the people press on. Another declared, 
that when the soldiers were loading, about a dozen 
surrounded them, and that several of them struck 
their guns that he saw ice or snow balls thrown, but 
did not apprehend himself or the soldiers in danger 
by any thing he saw This witness was very near the 
soldiers ; and will any one wonder, that when the sol 
diers were to all appearance meditating the death of 
people by loading their guns, while there was no ap 
parent danger to them, some of the people should 
strike their guns, to prevent the mischief which they 
seem d to be resolv d upon. 

Another declared, that one of the prisoners whom 
he also named, struck him upon the arm with his 
bayonet as the party came down before they formed ; 
and that he had then told Capt. Preston that every 
body was about dispersing The characters of these 
witnesses will not be contested. Such a conduct 
surely did not discover the most peaceable disposi 
tion in this lawful assembly of soldiers One would 
think that they intended to assassinate those, who 
they had no reason to think had the least inclination 
to injure them If these are not instances of assault, 
I know not what an assault is : And if they were not 
an unlawful assembly before, it may well be suppos d 
they were at this time doing an unlawful act an act 
that to be sure very ill became gentlemen soldiers sent 
here to curb a rebellious spirit and keep the peace : 
But there is a colouring at hand ; and because this 
party did not knock a witness down, or run him thro , 

VOL. II. 6. 


who had the audacity to refuse at their sovereign 
order to move out of the way for them as they pass d 
the street from the main guard to the custom-house, 
tho he had then been push d with a bayonet by one 
of them, it is sufficient to convince all the world of 
their lamb-like meekness and immaculate innocence. 
I have in a former paper consider d soldiers when 
quarter d in free cities, in the light of other inhabi 
tants, under the same direction of the civil magistrate 
and the same controul of the law of the land : and 
that by this law, like all other men, they are to be 
protected, govern d, restrain d, rewarded or punish d. 
If then a soldier has the right in common with other 
men, to arm himself for his defence when he thinks 
there is a necessity for it, he has certainly no more 
right than they, to use his weapons of death at ran 
dom ; or at all under a pretence of suppressing riots, 
or any other pretence, without the presence of the 
civil magistrate, unless his own life is in danger, and 
he cannot retreat : Such a liberty would tend to in 
crease the disorder rather than suppress it, and would 
endanger life rather than save it : In the instances I 
have mention d, the lives of the soldiers were not in 
danger from the men whom they assaulted : This 
was early in the tragical scene, and it was an assault 
personally upon those who had not attempted to do 
them- the least injury : How far their lives were in 
danger afterwards, and who were in fault, shall be the 
subject of free Enquiry in a future paper. 


1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 83 

[Boston Gazette, December, 17, 1770.] 


THAT the trial of the soldiers concern d in the car 
nage on the memorable 5th of March, was the most 
solemn trial that ever was had in this country, was 
pronotmc d from the bench. To see eight prisoners 
bro t to the bar together, charg d with the murder of 
five persons at one time, was certainly, as w r as then 
observ d, affecting : But whoever recollects the trag 
edy of that fatal evening, will I believe readily own 
that the scene then was much more affecting There 
is something pleasing and solemn when one enters 
into a court of law Pleasing, as there we expect to 
see the scale held with an equal hand to find mat 
ters deliberately and calmly weigh d and decided, and 
justice administered without any respect to persons 
or parties, and from no other motive but a sacred 
regard to truth And it is solemn as it brings to our 1 
minds the tribunal of GOD himself ! before whose 
judgment-seat the scriptures assure us all must ap 
pear : And I have often tho t that no one will receive 
a greater share of rewards at that decisive day, than 
he who has approv d himself a faithful upright judge. 

Witnesses who are bro t into a court of justice, 
while their veracity is not impeach d, stand equal in 
the eye of the judge ; unless he happens to be 
acquainted with their different characters, which is 
not presum d The jury who are taken from the 
vicinity, are suppos d to know the credibility of the 
witnesses : In the late trials the witnesses were most 


if not all of them either inhabitants of this town 
or transient persons residing in it, and the jurors 
were all from the country : Therefore it is not likely 
that they were acquainted with the characters of all 
the witnesses ; and it is more than probable that in 
so great a number of witnesses there were different 
characters, that is, that some of them were more, 
others less creditable. If then the judge, whose prov 
ince it is to attend to the law, and who, not knowing 
the characters of the witnesses, presumes that they 
are all good, & gives an equal credit to them, it 
is the duty of the jurors who are sovereign in regard 
to facts, to determine in their own minds the credi 
bility of those who are sworn to relate the facts : 
And this in a trial for murder requires great care and 
attention. I would just observe here, that in the last 
trial there were not less than eighty-two witnesses for 
the jury to examine and compare, which was an ar 
duous task indeed ! And I will venture further to 
observe, that some of these witnesses who swore very 
positively were not so creditable as others, and the 
testimony of one of them in particular, which was 
very precisely related & very peremptory, might 
have been invalidated in every part of it. I shall not 
at present suggest what I take to be the reason why 
it was not done. These matters will no doubt have 
their place in the history of the present times in some 
future day, when the faithful recorder it is to be 
hoped will, to use the language of our courts of 
justice, relate the truth, the whole truth, and nothing 
but the truth. 

It is enough for the jury to receive the law from 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 85 

the bench : They may indeed determine this for 
themselves ; but of facts they are ever the uncon- 
troulable judges. They ought therefore to receive 
the facts from the mouths of the witnesses them 
selves, and implicitly from no other : Unless the jury 
particularly attend to this, they may be in danger 
of being misled by persons who would be far from 
doing it with design : For instance, if one should 
swear that A being forewarn d against it, levell d his 
gun and kill d B : and afterwards it should be forgot, 
that the witness also swore that A immediately ad- 
vanc d & push d his bayonet at C, which pass d be 
tween his waistcoat and his skin ; if this I say should 
be forgot, and should be overlook d by the jury when 
they are together, perhaps instead of bringing it in 
murder according to the rules of the law laid down 
by the bench, they would bring it in manslaughter 
I do not here affirm that this has ever been a fact : 
I mention it as what may hereafter be a fact, and to 
show the necessity of a jury s relying upon facts as 
they receive them from the witnesses themselves, and 
from them alone. 

The furor brevis which we have heard much of, 
the fury of the blood which the benignity of the law 
allows for upon sudden provocation, is suppos d to 
be of short duration the shooting a man dead upon 
the spot, must have stopp d the current in the breast ^./> 
of him who shot him, if he had not been bent upon 
killing an attempt to stab a second person imme 
diately after, infers a total want of remorse at the 
shedding of human blood ; and such a temper of 
mind afterwards discovers the rancorous malice be- 


fore, especially if it be proved that the same man had 
declared that he would never miss an opportunity so 
to do : If this does not imply malice at first, I do 
not see but he might have gone on stabbing people 
in his furor brevis, till he had kill d an hundred ; and 
after all, it might have been adjudg d, in indulgence 
to the human passions, excuseable homicide. 

The law in its benignity makes allowance for hu 
man passions : But the law is just ; and makes this 
allowance upon the principle of justice : It gives no 
indulgence to malice and rancour against any indi 
vidual ; much less against a community or the human 
species He who threatens or thirsts for the blood of 
. the community is an enemy to the publick ; and hostis 
humani generis, the enemy of mankind consummates 
the villain. I will not take upon myself to say that 
either of these characters belong to any of the late 
prisoners There are two remaining yet in gaol, con 
victed of manslaughter, and waiting for the judgment 
of the court. With regard to one of these, namely, 
Kilroi, it was sworn that about a week or a fortnight 
before (the 5th of March, which must be before the 
affray at the ropewalks, that happening on the 2d) 
he said he would never miss an opportunity of firing 
upon the inhabitants, and that he had wanted such 
an opportunity ever since he had been in the country 
It is said that these might be words spoken in jest, 
or without any intention, when they were spoken, of 
acting according to their true import & meaning : 
But the witness said, he repeated the words several 
times : And that after he had told him he was a very 
great fool for saying so, he again declared he would 


never miss an opportunity. It appears that the wit 
ness himself, as any one might, tho t him to be in 
earnest, and rebuked him for saying so ; and in truth, 
none but a madman, or one whose heart was desper 
ately wicked, would repeatedly, especially after such 
wholesome reproof, have persisted in such a threat ; 
It discovered, to borrow the expression of a very 
polite & humane gentleman, upon another late occa 
sion, a malignity beyond what might have been ex 
pected from a Barbarian. 

It was also sworn, that this same Kilroi was with a 
party of soldiers in the affray at the Ropewalks a few 
evenings before the 5th of March, and that they had 
clubs & cutlasses That Kilroi was of the party of 
soldiers that fired in King-street that as the party 
came round before they form d, Kilroi struck a wit 
ness upon his arm and after the firing began, Kilroi 
struck at the same witness, tho he had hear d nothing 
said, nor seen any thing done to provoke the sol 
diers.- Another witness declared, that he saw Kilroi 
there, that he knew him well before, and was positive 
it was he that he heard the word fire, twice,, upon 
which he said to the soldiers, damn you, don t fire, 
and Kilroi fired at once, and killed Gray, who had no 
weapon, and his arms were folded in his bosom. 
Gray fell at the feet of this witness, and immediately 
Kilroi pushed his bayonet at the witness, which pass d 
thro all his clothes, and came out at his surtuit be 
hind, and he was oblig d to turn round to quit himself 
of the weapon the witness suppos d he designed to 
kill them both. How long is this furor brevis, this 
short hurricane of passion to last in the breast of a 


soldier, when called, not by the civil magistrate, but 
by his military officer, under a pretence of protecting a 
Centinel, and suppressing a Riot ? who had taken 
with him weapons, not properly of defence, but of 
death, and was calm enough in this impetuosity of 
anger, to load his gun, and perhaps with design, to 
level it, for it killed one of the very men with whom 
he had had a quarrel but a few evenings before : He 
had now a fair opportunity, which he had wished for, 
and resolved never to miss, of firing upon the inhab 
itants. It was said upon the words he uttered, that 
if all the unjustifiable words that had been spoken by 
the inhabitants of this town, were to be bro t in judg 
ment against them, they would have much to answer 
for. Those who believe the letters of governor Ber 
nard, the Commissioners of the customs, and some 
others whom I could name, and will name in proper 
time, may think so. I dare say, if Bernard could have 
proved one overt-act of rebellion or treason, after the 
many things he pretended had been said, and he or 
his tools could have had any influence, the words if 
prov d, would have been adjudg d to have been said 
in sober earnest, and would have been considered as 
material to have shown the malignancy of the heart. 

This Kilroi s bayonet was prov d to be the next 
morning bloody five inches from the point. It was 
said to be possible that this might be occasion d by 
the bayonet s falling into the human blood, which ran 
plentifully in the street, for one of their bayonets was 
seen to fall. It is possible, I own ; but much more 
likely that this very bayonet was stab d into the head 
of poor Gray after he was shot, and that this may ac- 

1 77] SAMUEL ADAMS. 89 

count for its being bloody five inches from the point 
Such an instance of Savage barbarity there un 
doubtedly was. It was sworn before the Magistrate 
who first examined into this cruel tragedy, though the 
witness who then swore it, being out of this province, 
could not be produced in Court upon the trial. It is 
not to be wonder d at that any material witness was 
out of the way, when it is consider d that the trial did 
not come on till the second term, and nine months 
after the facts were committed. I shall continue the 
subject at my leisure. 


Dec. nth. 


[Boston Gazette, December 24, 1770.] 


In the late trials of Preston and the Soldiers, it was 
observ d that the Court constantly from day to day 
adjourn d at noon and at sun-set Our enemies, who 
are fruitful in their inventions, may possibly from 
hence take occasion to represent that it was dangerous 
for the Court to sit in the tumultuous town of Boston 
after dark. At the first view it may perhaps bear this 
complexion in the eye of a prejudiced stranger ; for 
such adjournments in capital causes it may be were 
never before known here : But the representation 
would be without the least foundation in truth. It is 
possible that among other reasons this might be one, 
that the judges are all of them, to use the words of a 

9 o THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

good old Patriarch, well stricken in years, and one of 
them labours under infirmities of Body. I have an 
other observation to make on this occasion, but I 
reserve it till a future opportunity. 

I have already said that the Soldiers in coming 
down from the main-guard to the custom-house be 
haved with an haughty air that they abused the 
people as they pass d along pushing them with their 
bayonets and damning them ; and when they had 
got to their post, they in like manner abused and 
struck innocent persons there who offer d them no 
injury and all this was even before they form d, in 
doing which it does not appear that they were ob 
structed ; and as the witnesses declared, before the 
people press d upon them, if they did at all, and when 
there did not appear to be danger to them or any one 
else. These facts, I think were prov d, if we may be 
lieve persons of good credit, who declared them upon 
their oaths in Court : And that they came down 
under a pretence of suppressing a riot, without a civil 
magistrate or peace officer, which ought always to be 
remembered, no one will dispute. 

There was indeed a sort of evidence bro t into Court, 
which, if it is at all to be rely d upon, may serve to 
invalidate in some measure what has been said 
namely the declaration of one of the deceas d persons, 
as it was related by the gentleman who dress d his 
wounds, and to whom he is said to have declared it. 
This man, as the doctor testified, told him among 
many other things, that he saw some Soldiers passing 
from the main-guard to the custom-house and the 
people pelted them as they went along. But whether 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 91 

these Soldiers were Preston and his party ; or other 
Soldiers who are mention d by another witness, as 
going from the main-guard towards the Gentry, hav 
ing short coats and arm d with bayonets, swords or 
sticks, and one of them with a pair of kitchen tongs, 
chasing the people as they went, must remain an un 
certainty If he meant the former, it is somewhat 
strange that among all the witnesses on both sides, 
no one saw the people pelting them as they \vent along 
but he. This man confess d to the doctor that he was 
a fool to be there was surprized at the forbearance 
of the soldiers ; believed that they fired in their own 
defence & freely forgave the man that shot him. But 
it is to be observed, he did not declare this under 
oath nor before a magistrate : It was however the dy 
ing speech, very affecting and all, true no doubt ; 
altho no one knew the character of this believing 
penitent either in point of veracity or judgment. By 
the testimony of his land-lady in Court, one would 
not form the best opinion of him ; but de mortuis nil 
nisi bonum. 

There were others ready to be sworn, if the Council 
for the crown had thought it worth while to have 


bro t them forward, that they also could relate what 
this man had told them, viz. that his doctors had en 
couraged him that he would soon recover of his 
wounds, and he hoped to live to be a swift witness 
against the soldiers Great stress was laid by some 
upon the simple declaration of this man, who in all 
probability died in the faith of a roman catholick. 
This however, I am apt to think, will not disparage 
his declaration in the opinion of some great men at 


home, even tho he did not make his confession to a 
ghostly physician. 

Before I proceed to enquire into the danger the 
Soldiers were in, if they were in any at all, and who 
were in fault, I will take the liberty to lead the 
reader back to a consideration of the temper the 
Soldiers in general discovered, and their correspond 
ent conduct, for some considerable time before the 
fatal tragedy was acted It is well known indeed 
that from their first landing, their behavior was to a 
great degree insolent ; and such as look d as if they 
had enter d deeply into the spirit of those who pro- 
cur d them, and really believed, that we were a 
country of rebels and they were sent here to subdue 
us. But for some time before the fifth of March, they 
more frequently insulted the inhabitants who were 
quietly passing the streets ; and gave out many 
threats, that on that very night the blood would run 
down the streets of Boston, and that many who 
would dine on Monday would not breakfast on Tues 
day ; and to show that they were in earnest they fore- 
warn d their particular acquaintance to take care of 
themselves These things were attested before the 
magistrates by credible persons under oath. Accord 
ingly when the Monday evening came on, they were 
early in every part of the town arm d with bludgeons, 
bayonets and cutlasses, beating those whom they 
could, and assaulting and threatning others By the 
way, I will just observe for the information of a cer 
tain honorable gentleman, that the name of bludg 
eons was unheard of in this town till the Soldiers 
arrived This behavior put the inhabitants in mind 

i7?o] SAMUEL ADAMS. 93 

of their threatenings ; and was the reason that those 
of them who had occasion to walk the streets, came 
out arm d with canes or clubs. Between eight and 
nine o clock, the Soldiers in Murray s barracks in the 
centre of the town rush d out with their naked cut 
lasses insulting, beating and wounding the inhabitants 
who were passing along : This, in so frequented a 
street, naturally collected numbers of people who re 
sented the injury done and an affray ensued About 
the same time a difference arose in King-street, 
between a centry there and a barber s boy, who said 
to his fellow-apprentice in the hearing of the centry 

" there goes Capt. who has not paid my master 

for dressing his hair : " The centry foolishly resented 
it, and words took place ; and the boy answering 
him with pertness, & calling him a name, the centry 
struck him. Here was the first assault in King- 
street. But for what reason the evidence of this 
matter was not bro t into Court, at the last trial, as it 
had been at the trial of Preston, the reader if he 
pleases may conjecture. At the -same time a gentle 
man not living far from the custom-house, and hear 
ing as he tho t a distant cry of murder, came into 
the street, which he had just before left perfectly 
still, and to use his own words, " never clearer" : He 
there saw a party of Soldiers issue from the main- 
guard, and heard them say, damn them where are 
they, by Jesus let them come ; and presently after 
another party rush d thro Quaker-lane into the street, 
using much such expressions : Their arms glitter d 
in the moon-light. These cried fire, and ran up the 
street and into Cornhill which leads to Murray s 


barracks ; in their way they knocked down a boy of 
twelve years old, a son of Mr. Appleton, abused and 
insulted several gentlemen at their doors and others 
in the street : Their cry was, damn them, where are 
they, knock them down ; and it is suppos d they 
join d in the affray there, which still continued 
-They also then cried fire, which one of the wit 
nesses took to be their watch-word. 

By this time the barber s boy had return d to the 
centry with a number of other boys to resent the 
blow he had received : The centry loaded his gun 
and threatened to fire upon them, and they threat 
ened to knock him down The bells were ringing as 
for fire : Occasion d either by the Soldiers crying 
fire as is before mention d, for it is usual in this town 
when fire is cried, for any one who is near a church 
to set the bells a ringing ; or it might be, to alarm 
the town, from an apprehension of some of the in 
habitants, that the Soldiers were putting their former 
threats into execution, and that there would be a 
general massacre : It is not to be wonder d at, that 
some persons were under such apprehensions ; when 
even an officer at Murray s barracks, appeared to en 
courage the Soldiers and headed them, as it was 
sworn before the magistrate. This officer was in 
dicted by the grand jury, but he could not be found 
afterwards Some other officers, and particularly 
lieutenants Minchen and Dickson, discovered a very 
different temper. 

The ringing of the bells alarmed the town, it being 
suppos d by the people in general there was fire ; 
and occasion d a concourse in King-street which is a 

i7?o] SAMUEL ADAMS. 95 

populous part of it. As the people came into the 
street, the barber s boy told them that the centry had 
knock d him down and a person who had come into 
the street thro Royal-exchange lane, which leads 
from Murray s barracks, (and possibly had observ d 
the behavior of the Soldiers there) and seeing the 
centry, cried here s a Soldier Various were the dis 
positions and inclinations of the people according to 
their various " feelings " no doubt ; for mankind, it is 
said, " act from their feelings more than their reason : " 
The cooler sort advis d to go home : The curious 
were willing to stay and see the event, and those 
whose feelings were warmer, perhaps partook of the 
boys resentment. So it had been before at Murray s 
barracks, and so it always will be among a multitude : 
At the barracks some, to use the expression of one of 
the witnesses, called out home, home ; while some in 
their heat cried, huzza for the main-guard there is 
the nest This was said by a person of distinction in 
court, to savour of treason ! Tho it was allow d on 
both sides, that the main-guard was not molested 
thro the whole evening. 

I would here beg the reader s further patience, while 
I am a little more particular, in relation to the affray 
at Murray s barracks ; for it may be of importance to 
enquire how it began there. Mr. Jeremiah Belknap, 
an householder of known good reputation, had been 
sworn before the magistrate ; and why he was not 
bro t in as a witness at the trial, is not my business to 
say, and I shall not at present even conjecture Mr. 
Belknap, who lived in Cornhill near Murray s bar 
racks, testified, that on the first appearance of the 


affray there, hearing a noise he ran to his door, and 
heard one say he had been struck by a Soldier : he 
presently saw eight or nine Soldiers arm d with clubs 
and cutlasses, come out of Boylston s alley, which is a 
very short passage leading from Murray s barracks 
into the street he desired them to retire to the bar 
racks one of them with a club in one hand and a 
cutlass in the other, with the latter, made a stroke at 
him : Finding no prospect of stopping them, he ran 
to the main-guard and called for the officers of the 
guard he was inform d, there was no officer there 
he told the Soldiers, that if a party was not sent down 
there would be bloodshed ; upon which he was at 
tacked by two Soldiers, with drawn cutlasses, who he 
suppos d were of the party from Murray s barracks 
Another gentleman, one of the prisoners witnesses, 
swore in Court, that a little after eight o clock he saw 
at his own door, which is very near the barracks, sev 
eral Soldiers passing and repassing, some with clubs, 
others with bayonets : And then he related the noise 
& confusion he afterwards heard, & the squabble he 
saw, but no blows that he saw two Soldiers, each at 
a different time, present his gun at the people, threat- 
ning to make a lane through them ; but the officers 
drove them in The tragedy was compleated very 
soon in King-street The firing was reserv d for an 
other party of Soldiers, not much if at all to their 
discredit in the judgment of some, and under the com 
mand of an officer who did not restrain them. The 
witness heard the report of the first gun soon after 
the people cried home, home ; and declared that he 
tho t they had fired upon the main guard, for he heard 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 97 

the drum at the main guard beat to arms Another, 
who was sworn in Court, a witness for the Crown de 
clared, that about nine o clock, passing near Draper s 
(or Boylston s) alley, which leads into Murray s bar 
racks, and thro which he intended to go, he heard 
some boys huzzaing he judged there were not more 
than six or seven, and they were small ; they ran thro 
dock-square towards the Market Presently after he 
saw two or three persons in the alley with weapons 
a number of Soldiers soon sallied out, arm d with large 
naked cutlasses, assaulting every body coming in their 
way that he himself narrowly escaped a cut from the 
foremost of them who pursued him ; and that he saw 
a man there, who said he was wounded by them and 
he felt of the wound The wounded man stopped, and 
this occasioned the people who were passing to gather 
round him Thinking it dangerous for him to proceed, 
the witness returned home A Captain of the 14th, 
one of the prisoners witnesses was also sworn in Court : 
He testified that in Cornhill he saw a mob collected 
at the pass (Boylston s alley) leading to Murray s bar 
racks the people were pelting the Soldiers and they 
were defending themselves one of the Soldiers he 
tho t had a fire-shovel as soon as they knew him, he 
prevailed on them to go to the bottom of the pass, 
and with some difficulty he got down This witness, it 
seems, must have been later than the others ; and Mr. 
Belknap, perhaps gives as early an account of it, as 
any can, but the Soldiers themselves. 

I would only ask how it came to pass that the 
Soldiers, on that particular evening, should be seen 
abroad, in every part of the town, contrary to the 

VOL II. 7. 


rules of the army, after eight o clock If the officers, 
who should have restrain d them, were careless of 
their duty, whence was so general a carelessness 
among the officers at that juncture ? It was said, 
there was no officer at the main-guard, which may in 
part account for it. Or, if the Soldiers were all at 
once ungovernable by their officers, and could not be 
restrain d by them, a child may judge from the ap 
pearance they made, that there had been a general 
combination, agreable to their former threats, on 
that evening to put in execution some wicked and 
desperate design. 

Dec. 1 8th. 

[Boston Gazette, December 24, 1770.] 


SOMEBODY, in Mr. Draper s paper of Thursday 
last, charges me with Partiality, in my two first 
performances on the subject of the late Trial I deny 
the Charge, and desire he would explain himself. He 
also says, I freely charge Partiality on others : / 
utterly deny that also ; and call upon him to point out 
one Instance. He desires the publick would not be 
influenced by any remarks made by me on the late 
Trials : With regard to that, the piiblick will do as 
they please. He insinuates that I have cast the most 
injurious reflections upon Judges, Jury and Wit 
nesses : Again, I deny it. It remains then that he 
either retracts his charges or proves them : Otherwise 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 99 

the publick will judge him to be guilty of something 
worse than " the fault" of Partiality. He threatens 
to bring out some facts which were not allowed to be 
given in evidence : This is what I earnestly desire, 
for the reasons I have already mention d. And 
among other facts he intends, to ascertain the person 
in a red Cloak, mention d on the trial, if Vindex and 
his Adherents desire it / Vindex has no Adherents 
but in the cause of truth : And Vindex, for the sake 
of truth, requests it as a favor that the person in a 
red Cloak may be ascertained. He says that this 
person was declared by some of the witnesses, to have 
been very busy at the beginning of the Tragedy ; I 
affirm, that neither of the witnesses declared that he 
was very busy at the beginning, or any part, of the 
Tragedy. There were two only that made mention 
of him, viz. Mr. William Hunter & Mr. James Selk- 
rig: The one declared that in dock-square " there 
was a tall gentleman in a red Cloak ; that he stood 
in the midst of them (the people) ; that they were 
whist for some time, and presently huzza d for the 
main guard : The other said, there was a gentleman 
with a red Cloak & a large white Wig ; that he made 
a speech to them (the people) 4 or 5 minutes (this 
witness mention d nothing of their huzzaing for the 
main guard, which one would have thought must 
have been observable by all, but only adds) they went 
and knock d with their sticks, and said they would do 
for the soldiers What the tall gentleman said, neither 
of them could tell. I cannot help observing here, 
that some of the late letter-writers from hence to 
London, have mark d the red Cloak and white Wig, 

ioo THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

as the garb of a Boston Hypocrite ; but I have never 
yet heard it hinted, that such a dress was the pecul 
iarity of an actor in Tragedies Great pains have been 
taken to make the world believe that men of " estates, 
of figure and religion " had formed a plan, before the 
$th of March, to drive off the soldiers ; witness a 
deposition lately published : And perhaps it may be the 
low cunning of this writer to insimiate, that there was 
a mob at that time, and for that purpose, on dock- 
square ; and that their leader must be a man of figure 
in the town, because he wore a red Cloak As it is not 
yet known what the tall gentleman with a red Cloak 
said to the people ; whether he gave them good or 
ill advice, or any advice at all, we may possibly form 
some conjecture concerning it, when his person is 
ascertained. The sooner it is done the better. 


Dec. 22. 


[MS., British Museum ; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; 
a text is in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., pp. 377, 378.] 

BOSTON Dec r 28 1770 


Having been repeatedly sollicited by my friend, 
M r William Palfrey, 1 I embrace this opportunity of 
making my particular compliments to you, in a 
Letter which he will deliver. My own Inclination 
has coincided with his Request ; for I should pride 
myself much, in a Correspondence with a Gentleman, 
of whom I have long entertaind so great an Opinion. 

1 See above, page 9. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 101 

No Character appears with a stronger Luster in 
my Mind, than that of a Man, who nobly perse 
veres in the Cause of publick Liberty, and Virtue, 
through the Rage of Persecution : Of this, you have 
had a large Portion ; but I dare say, you are made 
the better by it : At least I will venture to say, that 
the sharpest Persecution for the sake of ones Country, 
can never prove a real Injury to an honest Man. 

In this little Part of the World a Land, till of 
late happy in its Obscurity the Asylum, to which 
Patriots were formerly wont to make their peaceful 
Retreat ; even here the stern Tyrant has lifted up his 
iron Rod, and makes his incessant Claim as Lord of 
the Soil: But I have a firm Perswasion in my Mind, 
that in every Struggle, this Country will approve 
her self, as glorious in defending & maintaining her 
Freedom, as she has heretofore been happy in enjoy 

ing it. 

Were I a Native and an Inhabitant of Britain, & 
capable of affording the least Advice, it should con 
stantly be ; to confirm the Colonies in the fullest 
Exercise of their Rights, and even to explore for 
them every possible Avenue of Trade, which should 
not interfere with her own Manufactures. From the 
Colonies, when she is worn with Age, she is to expect 
renewed Strength. But the Field I am entering, is 
too large for the present : May Heaven forbid, that 
it should yet be truly said of Great Britain, Qiiam 
Deus vult perdere, ! 

I am with strict Truth 

Your most humfr Serv 

v or THE 

102 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 


In my last I considerd the Temper which the 
Soldiers in general hadyliscoverd and the threats they 
had [utter d] previous to the fifth of March together 
with their correspondent Behavior on that alarming 
Evening. I was the more brief, because there had 
been a narrative of the horrid massacre, printed by 
the order of this Town, which was drawn up by a 
Com* appointed for that purpose ; and reported by 
their Chairman, JAMES BOWDOIN Esq r . The affi 
davits which are annexd to the narrative were each 
of them taken before two Justices of the Peace 
Quorum Unus to perpetuate the remembrance of the 
thing : Coll William Dalrymple, chiefe Commander of 
the Soldiers, was duly notified by the Justices to at 
tend the Captions : And His Honor the L t Governor 
certified, under his Hand with the province Seal an 
nexd, that full faith & Credit was & ought to be given 
to the several Acts & Attestations of the Justices, 
both in Court & without. 

The Candor of the Town indeed was such, that at 
their meeting in March, 2 by a Vote they restraind 
their Committee from publishing the narrative, lest it 
might unduly prejudice those whose lot it should be 
to be jurors to try these Causes : This restraint they 
continued by a Vote at their meeting in May, 3 & 

1 This article in the form as published is printed at pages 110-122. 

2 March 26. Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. xviii., p. 20. 

3 On July 10, the town meeting defeated a motion that the printers be 
allowed to sell the printed narrative. Ibid., p. 34. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 103 

untill the Trials should be over . . . plaud ; as it 
discoverd a Sense of Justice ; as well as the greatest 
Humanity 1 towards those men who had wantonly 
spilt the hearts Blood of Citizens like Water upon 
the Ground. A Temper far from vindictive ; calm and 
moderate, at a time, when if ever they might have -^ 
been expected to be off their Guard : And yet, so 1 

barbarous & cruel, so infamously mean & base were 
the Enemies of this Town, who are the common Ene 
mies of all America & of the Truth it self, that they 
had falsly inserted in the publick news papers in Lon 
don, that the Inhabitants had seizd upon Capt Preston ^J 
& hung him like Porteus upon a Sign Post \ 

I shall now in a few . . . endeavor to show 
the Temper which some of the Soldiers, (by whom I 
do not now particularly mean the late Prisoners), dis 
coverd at & after the fatal Catastrophes. Readers 
may have observd, that I am careful to distinguish 
between the evidence given in Court from that which 
was given out of Court ; Witnesses to this point, it 
ought not to be supposd, were admissible at the Trial, 
unless perhaps the one immediately following : That 
is a credible Person, who is mistress of a reputable 
family in the Town. She testified before the Magis 
trates, & was ready to swear it in Court, if she had 
been called, that on the Evening of the 5 of March a 
number of Soldiers were assembled from Greens Bar 
racks & opposite to her Gate, which is near those 
Barracks that they stood very still until the Guns 
were fired in Kingstreet ; then they clapd their Hands 
& gave a Cheer, saying, this is all we want ; they then 

1 The words "& Impartiality" were stricken out at this point. 

io 4 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

ran to their Barrack & came out again in a few min- 


utes, all with their arms, &. ran towards Kingstreet. 1 
These Barracks were about a quarter of a mile from 
Kingstreet : Their standing very still, untill they heard 
the firing, compared with their subsequent Conduct, 
looks as if they expected it ; it seems, as though they 
knew what the Signal should [be], & the part they 
were to act in Consequence of it. This perhaps may 
be thought by some to be too straining : I will not 
urge it, but leave it to any one to judge, how far if 
at all, it affords Grounds of Suspicion, that there was 
an understanding between the Soldiers in Kingstreet 
at the time of the firing & these ; especially, if it be 
true as has been said, that they fired ivithout the Com 
mand of their officers There was another Witness 
similar to this ; an housholder of good reputation, 
who testified, that the Soldiers from Greens Barracks 
rushd by him with their Arms towards Kingstreet, 
saying this is our time or chance ; that he never saw 2 
Dogs so greedy for their prey as they seemd to be, 
and the Sergeants could hardly keep them in their 
ranks. 3 

Another swore, that after the firing, he saw the 
Soldiers drawn up in the Street, and heard Officers 
[as] they walked backwards & forwards say, Damn it, 
what a fine fire that was ! How bravely it dispersd 
the mob / 4 A person belonging to Hallifax in Nova Sco 
tia, testified that when the Body of troops was drawn 

1 see Narrative first Edit. Apendix page 68. 

2 At this point the words " Men or " were stricken out. 

3 Idem. 

4 page 69. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 105 

up before the Guard house (which was presently after 
the Massacre) he heard an officer say to another, that 
this was fine work, just what he wanted}* I shall add 
but one more to this List, and that is the Testimony 
of a Witness, well known for an honest man in this 
Town, who declared, that at about one o Clock the 
next morning, as he was going alone from his own 
house to the Town House, he met a Sergeant of the 
29 th with Eight [or] nine Soldiers, all with very large 
Clubs & Cutlasses when one of them speaking of the 
Slaughter, swore by God it was a fine thing & said 
you, shall see more of it. 2 These Testimonies it is con- 
fessd would not be pertinent to the Issue of the late 
Tryal : But I think it necessary to adduce them here 
to convince the World of the wretched Condition this 
town was in, the Reasons they had to apprehend & 
the necessity they were under constantly to be upon 
their Guard while such were quarterd among them : 
Much was brot into Court to show that the Town was 
in a State of disorder on the Evening of the 5 of 
March previous to the Affray at Murrays Barracks ; 
Witnesses were admitted to testify that they were met 
by one & another armd with Clubs. 3 But Nothing 

1 page 22. 

2 Page 61. 

To these, I cannot help subjoining the Testimony of M r John Cox, 
a very reputable Inhabitant of this town ; who swore in Court at one 
of the late trials, that after the firing, he went to take up the dead 
that he told the Soldiers, it was a cowardly trick in them to kill men 
within reach of their Bayonets, until nothing in their hands, and that 
the officer said, damn them, fire again & let them take the Conse 
quence! to which he replyd you have killed . . . already to hang 
you all But he was mistaken. 

3 The remainder of this paragraph is crossed out in the draft. Cf. , page 108. 

106 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

appeard there to show the Cause & even the Neces 
sity of it. 1 It is a Mistake to say the soldiers were 
in danger from the Inhabitants. The reverse is true ; 
the Inhabitants were in danger from the Soldiers. 
With all the Indulgence which was & perhaps ought 
to be shown to Prisoners upon Tryal for Life, not a 
single Instance of any Injury ofTerd to Soldiers was 
provd, except at Murrays Barracks, & not even there 
but in return for intolerable Insults. Many Witness- 
[es] were ready if called for to testify to the Insults & 
Abuse offerd by the Soldiers to the Inhabitants in 
various parts of the Town. 

Thus one of the prisoners Witnesses testified in 
Court that at 7 o Clock going to the South End he 
met forty or fifty in small Parties, four or five in a 
party. It has been testified by a credible Witness that 
before the fifth of March, the Soldiers were 
not only seen making their Clubs, but from what the 
Witness could collect from their Conversation, they 
were resolvd to be revengd on Monday 2 and divers 
others swore to the same purpose ; They did not in 
deed say, whether they knew them to be soldiers or 
Inhabitants : It is as probable that they were Soldiers 
as Inhabitants; for it was sworn before the magis 
trates by a person of Credit, that on the Saturday be- 

1 Narrative Appendix page 4. 

- id. pa. 4 this alludes to the affrays at the ropewalk : The Soldiers 
at Greens Barracks had made three Attacks upon the ropemakers 
when they were at their Work, in revenge for one of them being told 
by one of the hands in the Walk, that "if he wanted work he might 
empty his Vault." Enough to enkindle the flame of resentment in the 
Breast of a common Soldier, who of all men has the most delicate 
Sentiments of honor ! Two of the prisoners were of the party in 
these noble Exploits, as was testified in Court. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 107 

fore he saw the Soldiers making Clubs ; Another was 
ready to testify in Court that thirty of these Clubs or 
Bludgeons were made, by the Soldiers, in his own 
Shop. And in the part of the Town where the Wit 
ness was going, a Gentleman was attackd by two 
Soldiers, one of them armd with a Club & the other 
with a broad Sword ; the latter struck* him, & threat- 
ned that he should soon hear more of it. It was noto 
rious that the Soldiers were seen frequently on that 
evening armd with Chibs but in the Judgment of 
some men, every party that was seen with Chibs, or 
in the modern term, Bludgeons, to be sure must have 
been Inhabitants. If the Soldiers were in such Danger 
why were they not kept in their Barracks after Eight 
o clock agreable to their own orders? In stead of 
this we find the Testimony of a person, who was not 
an Inhabitant of the Town, that being at the South 
End on that Evening exactly at Eight o Clock he saw 
there Eleven Soldiers : An officer met them . . . 
orderd them to appear at their respective places at the 
time : and if they should see any of the Inhabitants 
of the Town, or any other people not belonging to 
them, with Arms, Clubs or any other warlike weapon 
more than two being assembled together to order 
them to stop, & if they refusd, to stop them with their 
Jirelocks, and all that should take their part the 
officer went Northward & the Soldiers Southward. 
These were orders discretely given indeed ! And 
well becoming a Gentleman in any Command, over 
troops sent here, or as the Minister pretended, to aid 
the civil Magistrate in keeping the peace, & with direc 
tions never to act without . . . Will any one 

io8 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

think the Town could be safe, even from this band of 
Soldiers only, especially while under such direction & 
influence This is a single Instance No wonder that 
when the Bells soon after rang as for fire, & the 
people in that same part of the town came into the 
Streets with Bucketts, they should be told by some, as 
a Gentleman who was a Witness in Court for the pris 
oners swore they were, that they had better bring 
Clubs than Bucketts Such Appearances were enough 
to put the Town in Motion. It is a Mistake to say the 
Soldiers were in danger from the Inhabitants ; the 
reverse is true : The Inhabitants were in danger 
from the Soldiers. With all the Indulgence which was 
shown, and perhaps ought to be shown to Prisoners 
at the bar, upon trial for Life, not a single Instance 
was provd, of any Abuse offerd to any Soldier that 
Evening, previous to the insolent Behavior of those 
of them who rushd out of Murrays Barracks & fell 
upon all whom they met : on the Contrary, there had 
been many Instances of their insulting & assaulting 
the Inhabitants indiscriminately in every part of the 

As it was said in Court that the unhappy persons 
who fell a Sacrifice to the Cruel Revenge of the 
Soldiers, had brot their Death upon their own heads, 
I shall finish this paper in saying what ought to be 
said in behalf of those who cannot now speak for 
themselves. M r Maverick a young Gentleman of 
a good family & a blameless Life, was at Supper in 
the House of one of his friends, and went out when 
the bells rang as for fire. M r Caldwcll, young Sea 
man & of a good Character, had been at School to 

1 77] SAMUEL ADAMS. 109 

perfect himself in the Art of Navigation, and had 
just returnd to the house of a reputable Person in 
this town to whose daughter he made his visits with 
the honorable Intention of Marriage : He also went 
out when the bells rang. M r Gray was of a good 
family, he was at his own house the whole of the 
Evening, saving his going into a Neighbours house 
to borrow the News paper of the day & returning : 
He went out on the ringing of the Bells ; and altho 
a Child swore in Court that he saw him with a Stick 
after the bells rang, yet another Witness saw him 
before he got into Kingstreet without a Stick, Others 
saw him in Kingstreet & testified that he had no Stick, 
and when he was shot, the Witness then testified, 
as is mentiond in a former paper, that he had no 
Stick & his Arms were folded in his bosom ; so that it 
is probable the young Witness mistook the person. 
M r Attucks, it is said was at his Lodgings & at Sup 
per when the bells rang ; Witnesses indeed swore 
that they afterwards saw him with a Club, & great 
pains were taken to make it appear that he attackd 
the Soldiers, but the proof faild ; even Andrew, a 
Negro Witness whom I shall hereafter mention, 
testifies that he thot Attucks was the Man who struck 
one of the Soldiers, but could not account how he 
could get at such a Distance, as he was when he fell, 
the Soldier firing so soon. Others swear that he was 
leaning on his Stick when he fell, which certainly was 
not a threatning posture. It may be supposd that 
he had as good Right to carry a Stick, even a Blud 
geon, as the Soldier who shot him had, to be armd 
with Musquet & ball ; & if he at any time lifted 


up his Weapon of Defence, it was surely not more 
than a Soldiers leveling his Gun at the Multitude 
chargd with Death If he had killed a Soldier, he 
might have been hangd for it, & as a traitor too, for 
to attack a Soldier upon his post, was declared 
Treason; But the Soldier shot Attucks & killed him, 
& he was convicted of Man Slaughter! As to M r 
Car, the other deceasd person, it is doubtful with 
what Intent he came out. He was at M r Fields 
house when the Bells rang ; M r Field & another 
Witness who was at the House, testify that Car went 
upstairs and got his Sword. . . . 

{Boston Gazette, December 31, 1770.] 


IN my last, I consider d the temper which the Sol 
diers in general, had discover d, and the threats they 
had utter d, previous to the 5th of March, together 
with their correspondent behavior, on that alarming 
evening. I was the more brief, because there had 
been a " Narrative of the horrid Massacre," printed 
by the Order of this Town ; which was drawn up by a 
Committee appointed for that purpose, and reported 
by their Chairman, James Bowdoin, Esq. The Affi 
davits which are annexed to the Narrative, were each 
of them taken before two Justices of the Peace, 
Quorum Unus, to perpetuate the remembrance of the 
thing : Col. William Dalrymple, chief Commander of 
the Soldiers, was duly notified by the Justices to 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. in 

attend the Captions : And his Honor the lieutenant- 
governor, certified under his hand with the Province 
Seal affixed, that full faith and credit was, and ought 
to be given to the several Acts and Attestations of 
the Justices, both in Court and out. It will be own d 
by the impartial World, that nothing could be fairer : 
I am not, however, at all surprized, to find, publish d 
in a late New- York Paper, a letter said to be written 
in this Town, in which among other chit-chat, it is 
asserted, that from the borders of Connecticut to Bos 
ton, there are people who " exclaim against the Town 
for imposing on the Country by false Representa 
tions : " This Narrative has been in a Manner 
adopted by the Province ; for I am assured, that in 
the last Session of the General Assembly, the House 
of Representatives, generously granted to the Town 
a sum of Money to defrey the Charge of a vessel, 
hired for no other Purpose but to carry it to London ; 
that his Majesty s Council concurr d with the House 
in the grant, and his Honor the lieutenant-governor 
gave his Assent to it. Arts have been used, and are 
still using, to detach the rest of the Colonies from 
this Province ; and the same arts are every day prac 
tised, to divide the Towns in this Province from the 
Capital. It is the Machiavellian Doctrine, Divide et 
impera Divide and Rule : But the people of this 
Province and of this Continent are too wise, and they 
are lately become too experienced, to be catch d in 
such a snare. While their common Rights are in 
vaded, they will consider themselves, as embark d in 
the same bottom : And that Union which they have 
hitherto maintain d, against all the Efforts of their 

ii2 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

more powerful common Enemies, will still cement, 
notwithstanding such trifling letter writers as these. 

The candor of this Town was indeed such, that at 
their annual Meeting in March, by a vote, they re- 
strain d their Committee from publishing the Narra 
tive here, altho it was printed, lest it might unduly 
prejudice those, whose Lot it might be, to be Jurors 
to try these Causes : This Restraint, they continued 
at their Meeting in May, and untill the Trials should 
be over. A Caution, which all good Men will applaud: 
As it disco ver d a sense of Justice ; as well as the 
greatest Humanity towards those Men, who had spilt 
the blood of Citizens, like Water upon the Ground ! 
A temper far from vindictive Calm and sedate, 
when it might have been expected, if ever, they would 
be off their guard. And yet so barbarous and cruel, 
so infamously mean and base were the Enemies of 
this Town, who are the common Enemies of all 
America and of the Truth itself, that they had it 
falsely inserted in the public News-Papers in London, 
that the Inhabitants had seizd upon Capt. Preston and 
hung him, like Porteus ^lpon a sign-post ! 

I shall now, in a few instances, endeavor to show, 
the temper which many of the Soldiers discover d 
after .the fatal Catastrophe was over. The Reader 
may have observed, that I am careful to distinguish, 
between the Evidence given in Court, from that 
which was given out of Court : Witnesses to this 
point, it is not to be suppos d, were admissible at the 
Trial ; unless perhaps the one immediately following : 
This is a creditable person who is Mistress of a 
reputable family in the Town. She testified before 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 113 

the Magistrates, and was ready to swear it in Court, 
if she had been called, that on the Evening of the 5th 
of March, a number of Soldiers were assembled at 
Green s Barracks, and opposite to her Gate, which 
is near those Barracks ; that they stood very still, 
until the Guns were fired in King-Street ; then they 
clapped their hands and gave a Cheer, saying, this is 
all we want ; they then ran to their Barracks and 
came out again in a few minutes, all with their arms, 
and ran towards King-Street. 1 These Barracks 
are about a quarter of a Mile from King-Street : 
Their standing very still untill they heard the firing, 
compared with their subsequent Conduct, looks as if 
they expected it : It seems as tho they knew what 
the signal should be, and the part they were to act in 
consequence of it. This, perhaps, may be tho t by 
some to be too straining: I will not urge it; but 
leave it to any one to judge, how far, if at all, it 
affords grounds of Suspicion, that there was an under 
standing, between the Soldiers in King-Street at the 
time of the firing, and these ; especially if it be true, 
as has been said, that they fired without the com 
mand of their officer. There was also a Witness, an 
householder of good reputation, whose testimony was 
similar to this : That the Soldiers from Green s 
Barracks, on that Evening, rushed by him, with their 
arms, & ran towards King-Street, saying, this is our 
time or chance ; that he never saw Dogs so greedy for 
their Prey, and the Serjeants could hardly keep them 
in their Ranks 2 Another swore, that after the firing, 
he saw the Soldiers drawn up under Arms, and heard 

1 Narrative Appendix p. 68, 2 Idem p. 68. 

VOL. II.- 

ii4 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

the officers, as they walked backwards and forwards say 
to one another, Damn it, what a fine fire that was ! 
How bravely it dispersdthe Mob ! 1 A gentleman be 
longing to Halifax in Nova Scotia testified that when 
the body of Troops was drawn up before the guard 
house (which was presently after the Massacre) he 
heard an Officer say to another, that this was fine 
work, just what he wanted!* I shall add but one 
more to this list, and that is, the testimony of a Wit 
ness, well known in this Town for an honest man ; 
who declared that at about one o Clock the next morn 
ing, as he was going alone from his own House to the 
Town-House, he met a Serjeant of the 2gth with 
eight or nine Soldiers, all with very large Clubs and 
Cutlasses, when one of them, speaking of the Slaugh 
ter, swore by God, it was a fine thing, and said, you 
shall see more of it? To these I cannot help sub 
joining, the testimony of Mr. John Cox, a very re 
putable Inhabitant of this Town ; who swore in Court 
at one of the late trials, that after the firing, he went 
to take up the dead ; that he told the Soldiers, it was 
a cowardly trick in them to kill men within reach of 
their Bayonets, with nothing in their hands ; and that 
the officer said, damn them, fire again, and let them 
take the consequence to which he replied, you have 
killed enough already to hang you all : But it has 
since appeared that he was mistaken. There are 
others, who saw, a very large party from the South- 
guard, after the firing, take their post under Liberty- 
Tree ; by which one would think they intended to act 
the same part which the Soldiers in New-York had 

1 Idem 69. * Idem. 22. 3 Idem. 61. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 115 

before done, as indeed some of them had threatened 
they would, and which would probably have bro t on 
a new scene of confusion. But the commanding 
officer, very prudently ordered the regiment to be 
under arms, which prevented it. 

If these testimonies would not have been pertinent 
to the issue of the late trial, I think it necessary to 
adduce them here, to convince the world of the 
wretched state this Town had been in ; the reason 
they had to apprehend, while such blood-thirsty in 
mates were quarter d among them ; and the necessity 
they were under, constantly to be on their guard, 
while there were even such exultations at the barbar 
ous " action " of the Evening. 

Much was bro t into Court, to show that the Town 
was in a state of disorder on that Evening, and pre 
vious to the Affray at Murray s Barracks ; Witnesses 
were admitted to testify, that they had been met by 
one and another arm d with Clubs ; but nothing ap 
peared there, to show the Cause and even the neces 
sity of it : Thus, one of the prisoners witnesses testified 
in Court, that at seven o clock, going to the South- 
End of the Town, he met forty or fifty in small 
parties, four or five in a party ; and divers others 
swore to the same purpose : They did not indeed 
say, whether they knew them to be Inhabitants ; it is 
as probable, that they were Soldiers, as inhabitants, 
if not more so ; for it was sworn before the Magis 
trates, by a person of credit, that on the Saturday 
before, he saw the Soldiers making Clubs}- Another 
was ready to testify in Court, that thirty of these 

1 Idem. 4. 


Clubs or Bludgeons, were made by the Soldiers, in his 
own Shop. And in the part of the Town where the 
before-mentioned witness was going, a gentleman was 
early in the Evening attacked by two Soldiers, one 
of them arm d with a Club, and the other with a broad 
Sword ; the latter struck him, and threatned that he 
should soon hear more of it? It was notorious, that 
the Soldiers were frequently seen on that Evening, 
arm d with Clubs, as well as other Weapons ; and the 
night before, very late, it can be prov d that forty or 
fifty of them were seen, thus armd, in several parts 
of the Town in terror of his Majesty s subjects : But 
in the judgment of some men, every party that was 
seen with Clubs, or in the modern term, bludgeons, to 
be sure, must have been inhabitants. It had been 
testified, that on the Saturday before the fifth of 
March, the Soldiers, had not only been seen making 
their Clubs, as is before mentioned, but from what 
the witness could collect from their conversation, 
they were resolved to be reveng d on the Monday. 2 
If they were in such danger, as some will pretend 
they were, pray, why were they not kept in their 
Barracks, especially after eight o clock, according to 
their own rules? Instead of this, we find the testi 
mony of a person, who was not an inhabitant of the 

1 Idem. 12. 

2 Idem. p. 4, This alludes to the affray at the Ropewalks : The 
Soldiers at Green s Barracks had made three attacks upon the Rope-, 
makers, while they were at work, in revenge, for one of them being told 
by a hand in the Walk that " if he wanted work he might empty his 
Vault " : Enough, to enkindle the flame of resentment, in the breast of 
a common Soldier, who of all men has the most delicate sentiments of 
Honor . Two of the Prisoners were of the party in these noble Exploits, 
as was testified in Court. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 117 

Town : that being at the South-End on that Evening, 
exactly at Eight o Clock, he saw there Eleven Sol 
diers ; an officer met them, and order d them to ap 
pear at their respective places at the time ; and if 
they should see any of the inhabitants of the Town, 
or any other people not belonging to them, with 
Arms, Clubs or any other warlike Weapon, more than 
two being assembled together, to order them to stop : 
and if they refused, to stop them with their firelocks, 
and all that should take their part The officer went 
Northward and the Soldiers Southward 1 Here were 
orders discretely given indeed ! And well becoming a 
gentleman, in any command over troops, sent here, as 
the Minister pretended, to aid the civil Magistrate in 
keeping the peace ; and with directions never to act 
without one. Will any one suppose, that the Town 
could be safe, even from this band of Soldiers only ; 
especially while under such direction and influence. 
This is a single instance No wonder that when the 
bells soon after rang as for fire, & the people in that 
same part of the Town, came into the Street with 
their Buckets, they were told by some, as a gentle 
man who was a witness in Court for the prisoners 
said they were, that they had better bring their Clubs 
than their Buckets Such appearances were enough 
to put the Town in Motion It is a glaring mistake 
to say, the Soldiers were in danger from the inhabi 
tants : The reverse is true ; the inhabitants were in 
danger from the Soldiers. With all the indulgence 
which was shown, and perhaps ought to have been 
shown to prisoners at the bar, upon trial for life, not 

1 Idem. p. 48. 


a single instance was prov d, of abuse offer d to 
Soldiers that Evening, previous to the insolent be 
havior of those who rush d out of Murray s Barracks, 
with Cutlasses, Clubs and other Weapons, and fell 
upon all whom they met : On the contrary, there 
had been many instances of their insulting and even 
assaulting the Inhabitants in every part of the Town ; 
and that without Discrimination ; which did not look, 
as if they design d to seek revenge, for any former 
Quarrel, upon particular persons. 

As it was said, in Court that the unhappy Persons 
who fell a sacrifice to the cruel revenge of the Sol 
diers, had brought their death upon their own heads, 
I must not omit saying, what I think ought to be said, 
in behalf of those who cannot now speak for them 
selves Mr. Maverick, a young gentleman of a good 
family and a blameless life, was at supper in the house 
of one of his friends, and went out when the Bells 
rang as for fire. Mr. Caldwell, a young seaman and 
of a good character, had been at School to perfect 
himself in the art of Navigation ; and had just re- 
turn d to the house of a reputable person in this town, 
to whose daughter he made his visits, with the honor 
able intention of Marriage : He also went out when 
the bells rang. Mr. Gray was of a good family ; he 
was at his own house the whole of the Evening, sav 
ing his going to a neighbour s house to borrow the 
News-Paper of the day and returning ; He went out 
on the ringing of the bells ; and altho a child swore 
in Court, that he saw him with a stick, after the bells 
rang, yet another witness saw him before he got into 
King-Street without a stick ; others saw him in King- 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 119 

Street and testified that he had no stick ; and when he 
was shot, the Witness at whose feet he fell, declared, 
as is mentioned in a former Paper, that he had no stick, 
and his arms were folded in his bosom ; so that it 
is probable, the young Witness mistook the person. 
Mr. Attucks, it is said, was at supper when the bells 
rang ; he went out as others did, to enquire where the 
fire was ; in passing thro Dock-Square, he saw the 
affray at Murray s Barracks ; and hearing a man say 
that if any one would join, he would drive the Soldiers 
into the Barracks, he join d ; & they two were princi 
pally concerned in doing that piece of service. Great 
pains were taken to make it appear that he attacked 
the Soldiers in King-Street, but the proof fail d : He 
was leaning upon his stick when he fell, which cer 
tainly was not a threatning posture : It may be 
supposed that he had as good right, by the law of the 
land, to carry a stick for his own and his neighbor s 
defence, in a time of such danger, as the Soldier who 
shot him had, to be arm d with musquet and ball, for 
the defence of himself and his friend the Centinel : 
And if he at any time, lifted up his weapon of defence, 
it was surely, not more than a Soldiers levelling his 
gun charg d with death at the multitude : If he had 
killed a Soldier, he might have been hanged for it, 
and as a traitor too ; for even to attack a Soldier on 
his post, was pronounc d treason : The Soldier shot 
Attucks, who was at a distance from him, and killed 
him, and he was convicted of Manslaughter. As to 
Mr. Carr, the other deceas d person, it is doubtful 
with what intent he came out : He was at the house 
of one Mr. Field, when the bells rang ; Mrs. Field, 

120 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

and another witness who was at the house, declared 
that Carr went up Stairs, and got his Sword, which 
he put between his Coat and his Surtout, and it was 
with difficulty that they prevail d upon him to lay by 
his Sword : They could not persuade him to keep 
in : It does not appear that he took any part in the 
contest of the Evening : He was soon shot : and 
tho dead, he afterwards spoke in Court, by the mouth 
of another, in favour of the prisoners ; declaring 
among other things already mentioned, that he was a 
native of Ireland, and had often seen mobs and Sol 
diers fire upon them there, but never saw them bear 
half so much before they fired as these did. 

The conduct of the Soldiers and of the people in 
King-Street, shall be the Subject of a future Paper. 
In the mean time, I must desire Philanthropy who 
appeared in the last Evening Post, if he pleases, to 
read. again what I observ d upon the case of Killroi 
in particular, in this Gazette of the I7th Inst ; l and to 
consider, whether he did me justice in saying, that I 
had publish d " the only piece of Evidence producd 
against Killroi and argued upon that alone : " I then 
publish d several material pieces of Evidence against 
him; and. upon the whole concluded, that what was 
called the furor brevis was, in my opinion, of rather 
too long a continuance, to come within the indulgence 
of the law. I then tho t, and I believe I am far from 
being singular in thinking it ; that for a man repeat 
edly to say, that he had wanted an opportunity of firing 
upon the inhabitants ever since he had been in the 
Country and that he would never miss an opportunity 

1 See above, page 83. 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 121 

of doing it ; and afterwards, when forewarn d against 
it, to fire upon the inhabitants, kill one man upon the 
spot, and then unrelentingly attempt to stab another, 
who had not offer d him any injury, all which was ^^t 

sworn in open Court: If such a man is not, hostis 


humani generis, he discover d at least, a total want of 
remorse at the shedding of human blood, as well as 
rancorous malice from the beginning. Philanthrop 
further says, that " there was no evidence given in 
Court" of the wound in Mr. Gray s head ; and "that 
it is, in the highest degree unjust, to blame the Court 
and jury for not regarding evidence which they never 
heard" : If he will candidly recur to the aforemen 
tioned Paper he will find, that I expressly said, that 
the witness being out of the Province, the evidence 
of so savage an act of barbarity could not be produc d 
in Court; nor did I take it upon me to " blame the 
Court and Jury for not regarding it" "I do not 
charge Philanthrop with a design " to amuse his read 
ers in this, or any other instance ; but if he intends to 
continue the subject, I would advise him to be more 
cautious lest he misleads them for the future. Again 
he says "the impossibility of the bayonets being 
bloody the next morning, is demonstrable from this, 
that every gun and bayonet of the party was scowered 
clean that very night " ; but to borrow his own words 
" it is certain no such evidence was given in Court " : If 
this could have been proved, I dare say it would 
have been done without fail. Philanthrop may sup 
pose it to be true, from its being, as he says, "the 
constant practice of the army after firing " ; but such 
a vague supposition will not invalidate the oaths of 

122 THE WRITINGS OF [1770 

creditable witnesses in open Court, who swore that Kill- 
roi s bayonet was bloody, five inches from the point. 
To vilify and abuse "the most amiable and respect 
able characters," I detest from the bottom of my 
heart : At the same time, I leave it to Philanthrop, 
or any one who pleases, to write Panegyricks, on the 
living or the dead. 



[Boston Gazette, December 31, 1770.] 

Messieurs PRINTERS. 

I Desire you would correct the following mistake I 
made in your last paper. I said " there were two only 
of the witnesses in the late trial that made mention of 
the tall Gentleman in a red cloak and white wig, viz. 
Mr. Hunter and Mr. Selkrig" : In looking over my 
minutes, I find there was another, viz. Mr. Archibald 
Bowman, who also made mention of him. Mr. Bow 
man testified, that they (the people in dock-square) 
" stood thick round him some time, and after cried 
huzza for the main guard" ; in which he agreed with 
Mr. Hunter : But he declared, that he did not re 
member their striking their sticks at Simpsons Store, 
& saying, they would do for the Soldiers, tho Mr. 
Selkrig, who was with him at the same time, declared, 
that those words were spoken by numbers at Simpson s 
Store. Mr. Selkrig mention d nothing of their saying 
huzza, &c. From all which we may conclude, that 
these cries were not general ; especially, as other wit- 

1770] SAMUEL ADAMS. 123 

nesses declared that the people also cried, home, home. 
Mr. David Mitchelson testified, that "\\\ey cried, they 
would go to the main guard, and that the effect soon 
followed " : But they went not to the main guard, nor 
was the main guard attack d thro the whole evening. 
He further said, the bells were ringing. The truth 
is, the generality of the people of the town thought 
there was a fire ; but not knowing where, they natur 
ally, in passing thro the main streets, from the north 
and south parts of the town, stopped in dock-square, 
which is in the center : There, they found there was 
not fire ; but that the soldiers at Murray s barracks, 
had, if I may use the expression, broke loose. Mr. 
Selkrig said, that the people " made unsuccessful at 
tacks upon the barracks " ; but immediately adds, 
"that he saw nothing" (of the attacks, I suppose; 
for it was impossible he should see them, there being 
a stone building between the house in which he was, 
and the barracks) but that " they went up the alley 
and came back siiddenly " ; which corresponds with 
what another of the prisoners witnesses said, who was 
on the other side of the stone building, and therefore 
could see ; viz. that the soldiers several times presented 
their guns at the people : Mr. Selkrig must be can 
didly suppos d to intend, that he judgd the people to 
have made attacks upon the barracks, and unsuccess- 
fidly, from seeing them retreat only : But his conclu 
sion might not be well grounded : It is as natural to 
conclude that these sudden retreats were occasioned 
by the soldiers attacking the people, as they had be 
fore done ; and their levelling their guns and threat- 
ning to make a lane thro them, as was sworn in open 

i2 4 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

court. Mr. Dickson, who was with Mr. Selkrig, and 
the other Scotch gentleman at Mr. Hunter s house, 
declared, that " a party came running down the alley, 
as if they had met with opposition there " ; which con 
firms what Mr. Selkrig had said of their sudden 
retreats, and strengthens the supposition I have now 

But the writer in Mr. Draper s paper of the 2Oth 
Instant, has not yet fulfilled his promise to "ascertain 
the person " in a red cloak : I am sollicitous that the 
publick should know the very man ; and the rather, 
because it has been impudently insinuated, that he 
was a gentleman in office in this town. 


Dec. 27. 

[Boston Gazette, January 7, 1771.] 


I Have taken occasion to mention the unhappy per 
sons, who lost their lives on the fatal fifth of March : 
And I think it must appear to every candid reader, 
that they were totally unconnected with each other ; 
and that it cannot be even suspected, that either, or 
to be sure, more than one of them had any ill inten 
tion in coming abroad on that evening ; much less, 
that they were combin d together to do any sort 
of mischief : Nay, it is even to be doubted, whether 
they ever had any knowledge of each other. I will fur 
ther observe, that there was not the shadow of evi 
dence to prove, that any other persons, excepting the 

lyyi] SAMUEL ADAMS. 125 

Soldiers, had form d a design to commit disorders at 
that or any other time : Unless credit is to be given 
in a court of law, to the hearsay of an hearsay ; the 
story which one man told another at sea, and months 
after the facts were committed : Evidence which was 
in vain objected to by the council for the crown ; but 
to the honor of one of the prisoners council was by 
him interrupted and stopped. This worthy gentle 
man declared in open court that it was not legal, and 
that it ought not to have the least weight in the minds 
of the jurors ; upon which it was ruled, that the wit 
ness should proceed no further, and he was dismiss d. 

I come now to consider the tragical scene, as it was 
acted in King-street ; in doing which, I shall confine 
myself chiefly, to the evidence as it was given in 
court : If I vary from the truth, let Philanthrop, or 
any one else correct me ; it is far from my design : 
And I am willing to appeal for facts, to the book 
which Philanthrop has told us of ; provided always, 
that the facts are there stated with impartiality and 
truth : This I think it necessary to premise, because 
I find it advertiz d, that the book is to be publish d, 
not by the direction, but with the permission of the 
court : A distinction, which appears to me to be of 
oome importance. 

It may be necessary, first to enquire into the situa 
tion the centinel was in, for whose relief the party 
was said to have afterwards gone down. By the 
testimony given in court, by Col. Marshall, who had 
spent the evening at a friend s house in dock-square, 
it appears that at nine o clock all was quiet there ; 
and passing thro Royal - exchange lane into King 

126 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

street, where the centry was, he found all as peace 
able there ; " the street never clearer," was his ex 
pression. It is probable that very soon after this, 
the difference arose between the centry and the 
barber s boy ; for Col. Marshall testified, that some 
time after, he heard a distant cry of murder ; and it 
is without doubt the centry struck the boy, with his 
gun, It was then that Colonel Marshall saw a party 
turn out from the main-guard, and soon after another 
party rush d thro Quaker-lane, all arm d It is prob 
able, that these were the Soldiers who, as they ran 
into Cornhill, abus d the people there, as I have be 
fore mention d : Upon the appearance of these parties, 
it is said, that the barber s boy, and his fellow-appren 
tice, ran either into his Master s or a neighbor s shop, 
Mr. William Parker, one of the prisoner s witnesses 
declared, that when he came into King street, which 
was after the affray began at Murray s barracks, all 
was quiet and peaceable : But presently the barber s 
boy, with two or three more, came to the centry 
they push d one another against him (in resentment 
it is to be suppos d for) they said, he had knock d the 
boy down In the trial of Capt. Preston, the boy 
himself swore in Court, that the centry had struck 
him with his bayonet. Mr. Parker adds, that pres 
ently a number, about fifteen, came thro Silsby s 
lane, which leads from Murray s barracks, with sticks 
like pieces of pine in their hands The most of them 
small boys, i or 2 of them large lubbers, as he called 
them they said, let us go to the main-guard ; by 
which it does not appear that they interested them 
selves in the dispute with the centry, nor does it 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 127 

appear that they molested the main-guard, if they 
went up to it Soon after, five or six more came up 
Royal exchange lane, which also leads from Murray s 
barracks, with sticks like the others ; but neither did 
the witness say, that these interfered with the centry 
Mr. Parker further said, that he went up by Mr. 
Jackson s corner, and met twenty or thirty more 
coming out of Cornhill, a good many men among 
them, some with sticks and some with walking canes 
These opened the matter to him ; and told him 
there had been a squabble at Murray s barracks, but 
that the Soldiers were driven in, and all was over. 
These different parties met in a cluster, at and near 
Quaker lane, and not long after seem d to disperse ; 
and he soon went off himself, not leaving above 
twelve or fifteen in the street : And, just as he got 
home, which might not be more than ten minutes, he 
heard the bells ring, and the guns discharg d No 
one I believe will dispute the veracity, either of Col. 
Marshall or Mr. Parker. 

Mr. Edward Payne, a merchant of note in this 
town, was also summoned as a witness for the prison 
ers ; and his testimony will undoubtedly be rely d 
upon, by all who know him or his character. Mr. 
Payne came out after Mr. Parker left the street ; for 
he declared in Court, that at 20 minutes after nine, 
when the bells rang, he went out into the street, and 
was told, as Mr. Parker had been, that the soldiers 
had sallied out of their barracks, and had cut & 
wounded a number, but were driven in again He 
declared that the centinel was walking by himself, 
and no body near him so that the barber s boy and 

128 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

his three or four comrades, were at that time gone off 
He heard a considerable noise in Cornhill, and a 
noise of people coming up Silsby s alley they were 
inhabitants: Fourteen or fifteen, perhaps twenty, 
passed by him, some with sticks, others without ; as 
many of the latter as the former They cried where 
are they ? It is necessary to connect the circum 
stances, as the facts are related : Here therefore I 
will remind the reader, that besides the Soldiers that 
came out of Murray s barracks, and who now may be 
suppos d to have been driven in, there was also a 
party that had issued from the main guard, and 
another party of Soldiers who came thro Quaker- 
lane, all arm d with naked cutlasses, &c. who went 
into Cornhill not long \ before, and there insulted 
every person they met : These were the men whom 
the persons mentioned by Mr. Payne, in all proba 
bility refer d to, when they cried, where are they. 
Certainly no persons could be tho t blame-worthy, for 
pursuing a banditti, who had already put a number 
of peaceable people in great terror of their lives, 
with a design to prevent their doing further mischief : 
There is no foundation to suppose, that they had any 
other design : Yet these are the persons, who, as 
some would have it, were the faulty cause of the 
slaughter, that afterwards ensued : It was indeed 
unfortunate that they happened to take that rout ; 
for Mr. Payne added, that a lad came up and said, 
that the centry had knock d down a boy, upon which 
the people turn d about, and went directly to the 
centry : By which, one would think, that they had 
no design to attack the centry before : and that they 

1770 SAMUEL ADAMS. 129 

would not even have spoken to him, had they not 
been told that he had injured the boy : Till then, the 
centry had not been the object of their attention ; 
and I must insist upon it, that they had then as good 
right by the law, to resent the injury done to the boy, 
as the party from the main-guard had afterwards, to 
resent the injury done, if there was any, to the 
centry - - The prudence in either case I will not 
undertake to vindicate Mr. Payne further said, 
he was afraid of what might happen from the peoples 
surrounding the centry, and wished they might be 
taken off He returned to his own door, which is 
nearly on the opposite side of the street, and there 
heard the people cry to the centry, fire, damn you, 
why don t you fire. I have just observ d, that Mr. 
Payne expressed his concern at the peoples surround 
ing the centry : Mr. Henry Knox, another witness 
for the prisoners, a young gentleman of a very good 
reputation, was probably near the centry while Mr. 
Payne was at his own door He testified in court, 
that the people were round the centry, and they said 
he was going to fire That he was waving his gun 
That he (Mr. Knox) told him, if he fired he must die 
That in return he damn d them, and said, that if 
they molested him, he would fire That the boys 
were damning him and daring him to fire That he 
heard one say he would go and knock him down for 
sweeping (his gun) that he thought the centry 
snapped He added that he saw nothing thrown 
at the centry, altho he was near him till after the 
party came down and Mr. Payne finished his 
testimony with saying, that he perceived nothing 

VOL. II. 9. 

130 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

but the talk that led him to think the Soldiers 
would fire. 

Mr. Leigh, and Mr. Frost, both witnesses for the 
prisoners, testified, that the barber s boy came up to 
the people, and pointing at the centry, said, here s 
the son of a b ch that knocked me down ; upon 
which one of the witnesses said, the people cried kill 
him Both said, that the centry ran to the custom 
house steps, knocked at the door, but could not get 
in neither of them mention d any thing thrown at 
him, nor any attack upon him he prim d and loaded 
his gun and levelled it ; told the people to stand off, 
and called to the main-guard ; upon which Capt. 
Preston and his party came down Mr. Bulkly, sum 
moned also by the prisoners, testified that he thought 
the centry was in danger, by the number of people 
about him, and the noise ; and mentioned no other 
reason for his thinking so he said that a person told 
Capt. Preston, that they were killing the centry 
This person was probably one Thomas Greenwood, a 
servant in the custom-house ; for he himself declared 
before the magistrates, that he was in the custom 
house, and went from thence to the main-guard, and 
told one of the Soldiers, if they did not go down to 
the centry, he was afraid they would hurt him, tho he 
had not seen any person insult him This man, at the 
same time depos d, that he saw two or three snow 
balls fall near the steps of the custom-house, but saw 
no person throw any stones ; tho he had placed 
himself in the most convenient room in the house 
for observation Mr. Harrison Gray mention d the 
people round the centry, making use of opprobrious 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 131 

language, and threatening ; but said nothing of their 
attacking him, or throwing anything at him Mr. 
Hinckley declared, that the people went to the centry, 
and at last some of them cried kill him, but did not 
see any attempt to hurt him Mr. Cornwall swore, 
that he saw snow balls and 2 or 3 oyster shells thrown 
at the centry, but did not think they hit him he 
heard several young gentlemen perswading the people 
to go off, and believed they all would have gone off, 
if the Soldiers had not come down Mr. Helyer de 
clared, that he came into King-street, and saw the 
centry and twenty or thirty persons some boys at 
their diversion The centry wav d his gun in a way 
that had a tendency to exasperate the people Mr. 
Brewer saw the centry with his bayonet breast high 
a number of boys, twenty or more round him, talking 
but doing nothing. Mr. Bailey was standing with the 
centry on the custom-house steps saw 20 or 30 boys 
of about 14 years old they were throwing pieces of 
ice at him, large and hard enough to hurt him, but did 
not know whether they hit him. This must appear 
very strange as he was so near him his standing 
with him on the steps, would lead one to think he was 
an acquaintance of the centry ; which is confirmed by 
another circumstance, for he said that when the party 
came down, one of the Soldiers put his bayonet to his 
breast, and the centry told him not to hurt him Mr. 
Simpson swore, that the centry knock d at the custom 
house door that a person came to the door and 
spoke to him, upon which he turn d and loaded his 
gun There was one witness, and I think but one, 
who mention d pieces of sea-coal thrown at the centry; 

i 3 2 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

and that was Andrew a Negro A fellow of a lively im 
agination indeed ! One, who I believe could tell as 
good a story even to my lord of H. and give his lord 
ship as circumstantial an account of " the unhappy 
transaction ", as some, who have already had the 
honor of doing it, & who may think themselves to be 
Andrew s betters he is remarkable for telling roman- 
tick stories in the circles of his acquaintance And 
whether his fancy had beguil d his own judgment, or 
whether he had a mind to try his success at painting 
upon so serious an occasion, or lastly, whether he was 
resolv d to do his utmost to save the prisoners, I pre 
tend not to say ; but he certainly made some folks 
believe, that the ashes made of sea-coal burnt with 
great savings in the adjacent offices, were like the 
cinders thrown out of a blacksmith s shop Andrew s 
evidence, if not his judgment, was greatly rely d upon ; 
and the more, because his master, who is in truth an 
honest man, came into court and swore to his char 
acter ; and further said, that Andrew had told him, 
that He really believ d the inhabitants were to blame 
It is, I am apt to think, in general true, that no 
man knows so little of the real character of his ser 
vant, as the master himself does : It is well known, 
that the Negroes of this town have been familiar with 
the soldiers ; and that some of them have been 
tamper d with to cut their master s throats : I hope 
Andrew is not one of these. His character for in 
tegrity and even for learning, for he can both read 
& write, has been upon this occasion wrought to so 
high a pitch, that I am loth even to hint any thing 
that may tend to depreciate^ it ; otherwise, I should 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 133 

say, that there are some, whose kitchens Andrew has 
frequented, who will not give him quite so exalted a 
character, as others, who had not known him, thought 
he deserved. Several others, witnesses for the pris 
oners testified to the same purpose ; that the peo 
ple encroach d upon the centry ; that he loaded his 
gun and threatned to fire upon them ; and that they 
in return dared him to fire, and throw d a few snow 
balls. Mr. Hall said, that he presented his gun at 
the people, and they threw snow balls and some 
oyster-shells at him ; and they hit his gun two or 
three times Mr. Payne who saw the centry when he 
was alone, and until the party came up and fired, 
u perceived nothing but the talk, that he thought 
would have induced him or any of the Soldiers to 
fire " : Words are not an assault, and could not war 
rant him to fire : Mr. Knox and others saw nothing 
thrown at him nor any attack made on him : Mr. 
- and some others said, they saw snow balls and 
other things thrown at him ; but it appears very prob 
able, from the course of the evidence, that if any 
thing was thrown at him, it was not till he had loaded 
his gun, threatened to fire, & waved it in such a man 
ner as tended to exasperate people ; and as Mr. Knox 
tho t, had snapped his gun. The first assault was 
made by the centry himself, when upon a foolish 
provocation in words only, he struck the barber s boy : 
He renewed the assault, when he loaded his gun and 
presented it upon the people, threatning to fire upon 
them : In doing this, he put his Majesty s subjects in 
terror of their lives, against the law of the land ; 
and they would have been justified in seizing him at 

i 3 4 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

least If he had thought himself in danger, instead of 
threatning the lives of others, he must first, accord 
ing to the law of the land, have retreated if he could, 
and even from his post : Other doctrine, I know, has 
been strongly inculcated of late, by those who would 
set up, or tamely yield to, an uncontroulable military 
power ; but I trust in God, it will never be established 
here : It never can, while the people entertain a just 
idea of the nature of civil government, and are upon 
their guard against the daring encroachments of arbi 
trary, despotic power. The people were inclin d to 
disperse, and did disperse, in the beginning of this 
childish dispute ; as appeared by the evidence of Mr. 
Parker : And notwithstanding the mutual animosity, 
if the reader pleases, which afterwards arose between 
the centry and them, they would have finally dis- 
pers d, in the opinion of another witness, if the party 
had not come down from the main-guard. 

Jan. i. 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Jan* 12 1771 


I wrote you p Capt Hall who saild about ten days 
ago, & then inclosd, some papers publishd in the 
Boston Gazette upon the Subject of the late Trial of 
the Soldiers, I now send you duplicates, together 
with others on the same Subject since publishd. I 

i7?0 SAMUEL ADAMS. 135 

perceive that M r Hutchinson is appointed Gov r here, 1 
& it is said he is to have an independent Salary ! Is 
not this perfect Despotism ? What can the people of 
Britain mean, by suffering their great men to enslave 
their fellow Subjects ? Can they think that the plan 
is confind to America ? They will surely find them 
selves mistaken. I am in haste. 

[Boston Gazette, January 14, 1771.] 


I Have in my last, consider d the situation and 
behavior of the centry, and the people that were 
round him, immediately before the coming down of 
the Soldiers from the main-guard. Some of the wit 
nesses, sworn in open court, who I believe, are 
allow d to be of equal credit with any of the rest, and 
were present thro the whole bloody scene, declared, 
that they perceived nothing thrown at the centry 
Nothing but the number of people and the noise 
they made, that led them to apprehend he was in 
danger Nothing but the talk, that induc d them to 
think he would fire : Others indeed saw snow balls, 
and other things thrown at him, after he presented 

" I find by the prints that the Commissions have been published at Bos 
ton 14 th Ins 1 constituting L l Gov. Hutch. Governor, and Secret? Oliver L* Gov. 
of Massachusetts." Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles [March 22, 1771], vol. i., 
p. 97. " Gov r Thomas Hutchinson and Lieut. Gov r Andrew Oliver, Esq s., 
commissions published ; Judges in their robes, and all the Bar in their habbits, 
walked in procession." [March 14, 1771], The Diaries of Benjamin Lynde 
and of Benjamin Lynde, Jr., p. 2OI. 

136 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

his gun, and wav d it in an exasperating manner, and 
threatened to fire: One in particular, declared, that 
he saw balls of ice thrown, large & hard enough to 
hurt any man : It is strange, if he thought the 
centry in danger, that he should stand so near him, as 
by his own testimony it is evident he did, till the 
Soldiers came down : I think, upon the whole, we 
may fairly conclude, that but few of these things were 
thrown at him ; and that they were in consequence 
of his loading his gun, & presenting it at the people : 
It was the opinion of one of the witnesses for the 
prisoners, that the people would have dispersed, if 
the soldiers had not come down : It was then un 
fortunate, that the soldiers were so suddenly order d 
down. Whether it was regular, for a captain to take 
a corporal s command, or was ever done before in the 
army, I leave others to say, who are better ac 
quainted with the art military, than I pretend to be : 
If not, it may be difficult to account for Capt. Pres 
ton s great readiness to undertake so disagreable and 
dangerous a task. 

In the publick Advertiser, printed in London, the 
28th of April last, I have seen a paper called, the 
Case of Capt. Thomas Preston : It was published in 
his name, tho not wholly his own draft ; as he de 
clared to a committee of this town, who waited upon 
him for an explanation of some passages in it, 1 which 
were notoriously false, and grosly reflecting upon 
some of the magistrates, as well as the people of the 
town and province. I may hereafter particularly 
consider this paper, which has had its run thro 

1 See above, page 14. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 137 

Britain and America ; and point out the many " faults 
of partiality " which are contain d in it : The only 
reason why I have not already done it, was, because 
I agreed in the general sentiment of the inhabitants 
of this town, that nothing of this kind should be pub- 
lish d, at so critical a juncture, lest it might be tho t 
to prejudice the minds of Jurors on a trial for life. 1 
It may be perhaps more easy, and of full as much im 
portance to the publick, to ascertain the person, who 
several times alter d the state of the case ; and, as 
Capt. Preston himself declared, even after it finally 
came out of his hands, as it would be, to ascertain 
the person in a red cloke ; which the writer in 
Draper s paper has been so often in vain called upon 
to do, in fulfillment of his voluntary promise. In 
this paper, Capt. Preston, or his friend in his behalf, 
says, "he sent a non-commission d officer and twelve 
men, and very soon follow d himself : " The wit 
nesses in court, on both sides declared, that Capt. 
Preston himself came down with the party. Again 
he says, he followed, " lest the officer and soldiers 
should be thrown off their guard, and commit some 
rash act " : But, did he restrain them from commit- 
ing so rash an act, as firing upon the multitude ? 
He surely must have observ d the violent temper 
which the soldiers discover d, as " they rushed thro 
the people " according to his own account; " upon the 
trot, in a threatning manner, damning the people 
and pushing them with their bayonets", as Mr. Knox 
and others swore in court : He knew their guns 
were charg d with ball ; he declar d it at the time, and 

1 See above, page 102. 

138 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

on the spot, as Mr. Palmes testified : Should he not 
then, at the very instant, when he must if ever, have 
been apprehensive, that they would commit some 
rash act, at least have caution d them, not to fire, till 
he himself should give the orders? Instead of this, 
by his own, or his friend s account, publish d as his 
own, we find no such prudent directions to the men 
under his command ; who by the rules of the army, 
would have been liable to suffer death, if they had 
disobey d ! What single step did he take, to prevent 
their committing a rash act, for the sake of which 
alone, he tells us, he followed down? Not one ac 
cording to the state of his case, till after they began 
to fire : " Upon my asking the men, says he, why 
they fired without orders, they said, they heard 
the word, fire, and suppos d it come from me " : It 
seems, it was the apprehension of the Soldiers, that 
he order d them to fire ; and we must suppose, that 
the Soldiers were particularly attentive to their com 
manding officer : But he adds, " I assured them my 
words were, don t fire " ; from hence it is plain that 
he gave them some order. I am no Soldier, and 
never desire to be one : But I appeal to those who 
are, whether the words, " don t fire," are words of 
command in the British army ; and whether there is 
not some other word which Soldiers are taught to 
understand, more proper to be given on such an occa 
sion, or, as I chuse to express it, in the heat of action, 
which would have prevented such rashness, and even 
put it out of their power to have fired, at least to 
have done any mischief. These words, I well re 
member, it was said were made use of in command, 

i7?i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 139 

at another time, and by another officer of the same 
regiment ; when one of the soldiers, thro mistake, 
fired upon the march, in the street, and very nearly 
effected the death ; not to say, the murder of a 
worthy citizen : The soldier was soon jostled from 
the reach of civil power ; which was a mighty easy 
thing to be done, as was found by experience, at a 
time when the first magistrate of the province had 
publickly declared, that he had no authority over the 
King s troops, which has since been repeated : The 
good men of the county however, found a bill of in 
dictment against the officer who commanded the 
party : But when the matter came upon trial before 
the superior court, altho some positively swore that 
he gave the word, fire, yet because the soldiers swore 
that his words were don t fire, a doubt arose ; and a 
doubt you know, must turn in favor of the accused 
party ; for the good old maxim is, whether founded 
in the law of Moses, the common law, the law of na 
ture and reason, or the safety of human societies, 
better ten villains escape than one honest, harmless 
man be hang d Whether the officer would have so 
luckily escaped, upon a trial before a court martial, for 
giving a word of command, unintelligible in a military 
sense, I very much doubt. Capt. Preston further 
said, that " his intention was not to act offensively, 
nor even the contrary part, without compulsion " : 
That is, when he should think himself compelled, he 
was to act defensively ; and in what way could he or 
his soldiers act upon the defence, with muskets 
charg d with ball, but by discharging them upon the 
people, which he must have concluded would have 

140 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

kill d some of them ? No matter, the people were 
the agressors ; and besides, " the King s money was 
to be protected" as well as the centinel Here I will 
acquit Capt. Preston, as a man of too much honor to 
suggest a known falshood : It has been the con 
stant practice of a certain set of men, meanly to 
insinuate, that the Americans in their exertions 
against lawless power, have always had something 
dishonorable in view : At present, it is the plundering 
the King s chest ; altho even Greenwood himself, an 
hired servant in the custom-house, a dependent upon 
dependents, if he is to be believed, depos d before 
the magistrate, that amidst the whole volley, as some 
would have it, of snow balls, oyster shells, ice, and as 
Andrew said, sea coal, thrown at the centinel, " not a 
single Pane of the custom-house windows were bro 
ken ; nor did he see any person attempt to get into 
the house, or break even a square of glass " -The 
soldiers acted defensively, and it seems as tho Pres 
ton thought they were at length compelled to do it ; 
for if it was done against his orders, or barely with 
out his orders, with what propriety could he say to 
the person of the first character in the province, " I 
did it to save my men," A precise answer indeed, 
to the question put to him ; and therefore, I should 
have thought, not " unsatisfactory," or " imperfect ", 
as it was afterwards affirmed to have been. 

Such were the effects of Capt. Preston s sending 
the non-commission d officer and the soldiers to pro 
tect the centinel and the King s money ; and of his 
following very soon after, to prevent their com 
mitting a rash act : But if Capt. Preston had a right 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 141 

to go to the protection of any man whom he thought 
in danger, had he or his party a right to engage in an 
affray, and carry into an incensed mob, as he calls it, 
weapons which could not be used without killing, and 
there make use of them as he should judge neces 
sary ? Ought he not to have called upon a civil offi 
cer, and put himself, and his men, if required, under 
his direction, before he went upon so desperate a de 
sign ? Or, does the law of the land, invest every, or 
any military officer, even of the highest rank, with 
the right, above all other citizens, of making himself 
a party in a riot, under a pretence of suppressing it ; 
of carrying with him soldiers arm d with weapons of 
death, and making use of them at discretion, with 
out even the presence of a civil officer This is a 
point of too much importance to be yielded ; for the 
lives of subjects are not to depend, upon the judg 
ment or discretion, much less upon the will and pleas 
ure, or wanton humour of his Majesty s military 

I am sensible, I have heretofore taken up too 
much room in your useful paper : I shall avoid 
it at present ; and the rather, to afford you the op 
portunity of inserting an address "to the PROTEST 
ANTS of the three Kingdoms, and the COLONIES " ; 
being the preface to a late publication in London, 
containing a series of important letters of the Earl of 
Hillsborough, the Marquiss of Rockingham, and 
others, from a gentleman whose signature is Pliny, 


i 4 2 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

[Boston Gazette, January 21, 1771.] 


As the lives of five of his Majesty s subjects were 
unfairly\vs\. on the evening of the 5th of March last, 
it follows that some persons must have been in fault : 
The unhappy sufferers, for ought that has ever ap 
peared, were in the peace of God and the King ; let their 
memories then, so far at least as respects this matter, 
remain unreproach d. It appeared by the evidence 
in court, that all the prisoners were present in king 
street ; that they all discharg d their musquets but 
one, and his flush d in the pan ; and that the deceas d 
were all kill d by musquet balls. Six of the prisoners 
were acquitted by the jury, and two were found guilty 
of manslaughter. In ordinary cases, the publick 
ought to rest satisfied, with the verdict of a jury ; a 
method of trial, which an Englishman glories in as 
his greatest security : It is a method peculiar to the 
English ; and as a great writer observes, has been a 
probable means of their having supported their liber 
ties thro so many ages past : Among the most sub 
stantial advantages arising from trials by juries, 
there is this incidental one, in this province espe 
cially ; that by our laws, no man being oblig d to 
serve as a juryman more than once in three years, it 
falls upon the freemen as it were by rotation ; by this 
means, the people in general are in their turns called 
to that important trust ; by attending in courts of 
law and justice, it is to be presum d that their minds 
are there impress d with a sense of justice ; and that 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 143 

they gain that general idea of right or law, which it 
is necessary that all men in a free country should 
have. " It is an admirable institution, by which every 
citizen may be plac d in a situation, that enables him 
to contribute to the great end of society, the dis 
tributing justice ; and it every where diffuses a spirit 
of true patriotism, which is zealously employed for 
the publick welfare." I am not about to arraign the 
late jurors before the bar of the publick : They are 
accountable to God and their own consciences, and 
in their day of trial, may God send them good de 
liverance. But in times when politicks run high, we 
find by the experience of past ages, it is difficult to 
ascertain the truth even in a court of law: At such 
times, witnesses will appear to contradict each other 
in the most essential points of fact ; and a cool con 
scientious spectator is apt to shudder for fear of per 
jury : If the jurors are strangers to the characters of 
the several witnesses, it may be too late for them to 
make the enquiry, when they are upon their seats : 
The credibility of a witness perhaps cannot be im- 
peac d in court, unless he has been convicted of per 
jury : But an immoral man, for instance one who will 
commonly prophane the name of his maker, certainly 
cannot be esteemed of equal credit by a jury, with 
one who fears to take that sacred name in vain : It is 
impossible he should in the mind of any man : There 
fore, when witnesses substantially differ in their 
relation of the same facts, unless the jury are ac 
quainted with their different characters, they must be 
left to meer chance to determine which to believe ; 
the consequence of which, may be fatal to the life of 

144 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

the prisoner, or to the justice of the cause, or per 
haps both. It was for this reason, that I was con- 
cern d, when the council for the crown objected the 
notoriety of the immoral character of a witness, that 
he was stopped by one of the council on the other 
side. In a court of justice, it is beneath any charac 
ter to aim at victory and triumph : Truth, and truth 
\alone is to be sought after. 

" While the soldiers were passing from the main 
guard to the custom-house, it did not appear by any 
of the witnesses, that they were molested by the 
people ; if we except what was mention d, as having 
been said by Mr. Car, one of the deceased persons : 
His doctor testified, that he told him, the " people 
pelted them as they went along ". The declaration 
of a dying man commonly carries much weight, and 
oftentimes, possibly more than it ought : This man s 
declaration was not made upon oath, nor in the pres 
ence of a magistrate : The doctor had a curiosity, as 
most had, to know how matters were, and enquired 
of his patient who he thought could inform him ; it 
may be, not expecting to be called to relate it before 
a court, nine months afterwards, when he might have 
nothing but memory to recur to : No one disputes 
the doctor s understanding or integrity : I have before 
said, that others were ready to testify, that Car gave 
them a very different account from that which he 
gave to his doctor : It ought to be remembered, that 
the unhappy man was laboring under the pains and 
anxiety occasioned by a mortal wound ; and might 
not be able at all times to attend duly to such ques 
tions as were asked him : What makes it highly 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 145 

probable that he must have been mistaken, is, that 
among the many witnesses, not one on either side, 
mention d their seeing the least ill usage offer d to 
the soldiers as they pass d from the main guard ; not 
even Mr. Gridley, whose declared intention was, at 
the request of some gentlemen, with whom he had 
been in company, to bring them as circumstantial an 
account of the matter as he could. 

It is agreed by the witnesses for the prisoners, who 
mention d their seeing the soldiers upon their first 
coming down, that they loaded their guns, levelled 
them at the people & began to insult & abuse them, 
(as indeed they did upon their march) ; before any 
just provocation had been offer d to them. Mr. 
Hinckley saw the party come down they loaded 
push d their bayonets and pricked the people Mr. 
Wilkinson also saw the party come down ; did not 
see anything thrown at them, tho he stood at two or 
three yards distance Mr. Murray said they came 
down and cried make way Andrew declared, that 
the party planted themselves at the custom-house 
the people gave three cheers he heard one of the 
soldiers say, damn you stand back one of them had 
like to have prick d a man as he was passing by, and 
swore by God he would stab him several persons 
were talking with the captain, and a number pressing 
on to hear what they said ; one of the persons talking 
with the officer said " he is going to fire " / the people 
shouted and said, he dare not fire ; and then they 
began to throw snow balls. Even by Andrews ac 
count, the people were rather curious to know what 
the soldiers design d to do, than intent upon doing 

146 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

them any hurt, untill they were assaulted by them ; 
which I am apt to think is true ; because Newtown 
Prince, another Negro, of whom for my own part I 
conceive a better opinion than of Andrew, declared, 
that the Soldiers planted themselves in a circle their 
guns breast high and, the people crowded on, to 
speak with Capt. Preston and further, several of the 
witnesses swore that they themselves talked with the 
Captain, and one of them caution d him against firing 
Capt. Preston himself also in his printed state of 
his case says, that he reasoned with "some well be- 
havd persons" : To show that "as he was advanced 
before the muzzels of their pieces, he must fall a 
sacrifice if they fired " and that his ordering them 
to fire " upon the half cock and charged bayonets 
would prove him no officer " ; all which might be true, 
and yet in my humble opinion not quite so " satis 
factory " as the answer which he afterwards gave to 
the Lieutenant Governor ; for he might, I suppose, 
in an instant shift his station, and the soldiers, 
by a proper word of Command, might discharge 
their musquets without his falling a sacrifice or for 
feiting the character of a soldier Such a manner of 
reasoning upon their question, whether he intended 
to order the men to fire, was evasive ; and may serve 
to show Captain Preston s opinion, that however well 
behav d these gentlemen were, they were no Soldiers. 
I shall now take notice of what the witnesses for 
the crown testified concerning the behavior of the 
Soldiers, upon their first arrival at the custom-house. 
Mr. Austin saw the party come down ; the captain 
was with them ; McCauley, one of the prisoners, 

i77i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 147 

loaded his gun, pushd at him with his bayonet and 
damn d him He did not observe the people press 
on Mr. Bridgham declared, that about a dozen sur 
rounded the Soldiers and struck their guns with their 
sticks : But he also said the Soldiers were loading at 
the same time He further added, that he did not ap 
prehend himself or the Soldiers in any danger by any 
thing he saw ; from whence it may be suppos d, that 
as the people struck their guns only, when they might 
as easily have have knocked them down, their inten 
tion was not to hurt them, but rather to prevent their 
loading Mr. Brewer saw the party come down- 
told Captain Preston that every body was about dis 
persing ; in which he agreed with another witness, 
who was of the opinion that the people would have 
dispers d if the Soldiers had not come down ; Mr. 
Brewer added, that Killroi,. one of the prisoners, 
struck him with his bayonet before they formed, and 
that he saw no blows and nothing thrown before the 
firing Mr. Bayley testified, that when the party came 
down, Carrol one of the prisoners put his bayonet to 
his breast. Mr. Wilkinson stood at about two yards 
distance from the Soldiers all the while they were 
there He saw no ice nor snow balls thrown ; in which 
he agreed with Mr. Austin Mr. Fosdick testified, 
that he was pushd as the party came down that 
afterwards they wounded him in the breast two 
different bayonets were thrust into his arm all this 
while there had been no blows that he saw, nor did he 
know the cause of their firing Mr. Palmes saw Capt. 
Preston at the head of the Soldiers who were drawn 
up with their guns breast high and their bayonets 

i 4 8 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

fixed ; and Preston told him they were loaded with 
powder and ball I think I have mentioned all the 
witnesses, who testified in court to what they saw 
upon the first arrival of the party at the custom 
house : And by their testimonies the reader will 
judge, whether the Soldiers had just provocation to 
fire upon the people ; or whether they were in danger 
of their lives or had any reason to think they were : 
On the contrary, whether they did not themselves 
first assault the people as they were coming from the 
main guard ; and afterwards, by levelling their guns 
loaded with ball in an exasperating manner at the 
people ; pushing their bayonets at some of them, 
wounding others and threatning all, even before any 
injury had been offer d to them. 

I shall conclude what I have to say upon this inter 
esting subject in my next. In the mean time let me 
assure Philanthropy that I am fully of his mind, that 
a true patriot "will not irom private views, or by any 
ways or means foment and cherish groundless fears 
and jealousies " : But perhaps we may not be so well 
agreed in our determination, when the fears and jeal 
ousies of our fellow citizens are groundless It is I 
believe the general opinion of judicious men, that at 
present there are good grounds to apprehend a settled 
design to enslave and ruin the colonies ; and that 
some men of figure and station in America, have 
adopted the plan, and would gladly lull the people to 
sleep, the easier to put it in execution : But I believe 
Philanthrop would be far from acknowledging that 
he is of that opinion. The fears and jealousies of the 
people are not always groundless : And when they 

177 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 149 

become general, it is not to be presum d that they 
are ; for the people in general seldom complain, with 
out some good reason. The inhabitants of this con 
tinent are not to be dup d " by an artful use of the 
words liberty and slavery, in an application to their 
passions^ as Philanthrop would have us think they 
are ; like the miserable Italians, who are cheated with 
the names " Excommunication, Bulls, Crusades" &c. 
They can distinguish between " realities and sounds " ; 
and by a proper use " of that reason which Heaven 
has given them ", they can judge, as well as their 
betters, when there is danger of slavery : They have 
as high a regard for George the III. as others have, 
& yet can suppose it possible they may be made 
slaves, without " enslaving themselves by their own 
folly and madness " ; They can believe, that men who 
"are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, born 
and bred among us," may, like Achan, for a wedge of 
gold, detach themselves from the common interest, 
and embark in another bottom ; in hopes that they, 
"with their wives and children" will one day stand 
and see, and enjoy, and triumph, in the ruins of their 
country : Such instances there have been frequently 
in times past ; and I dare not say, we have not at 
present, reason enough for " exclaiming with the 
roman patriot, O tempora, O mores". The true 
patriot therefore, will enquire into the causes of the 
fears &&& jealousies of his countrymen ; and if he finds 
they are not groundless, he will be far from endeavor 
ing to allay or stifle them : On the contrary, con- 
strain d by the Amor Patrice, and ITQI& public views, 
he will by all proper means in his power foment and 

150 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

cherish them : He will, as far as he is able, keep the 
attention of his fellow citizens awake to their griev 
ances ; and not suffer them to be at rest, till the 
causes of their, just complaints are removed. At such 
a time Philanthropes Patriot may be "very cautious 
of charging the want of ability or integrity to those 
with whom any of the powers of government are en 
trusted " : But the true patriot, will constantly be 
jealous of those very men : Knowing that power, 
especially in times of corruption, makes men wanton ; 
that it intoxicates the mind ; and unless those with 
whom it is entrusted, are carefully watched, such is 
the weakness or the perverseness of human nature, 
they will be apt to domineer over the people, instead 
of governing them, according to the known laws of 
the state, to which alone they have submitted. If he 
finds, upon the best enquiry, the want of ability or 
integrity ; that is, an ignorance of, or a disposition to 
depart from, the constitution, which is the measure 
and rule of government & submission, he will point 
them out, and loudly proclaim them : He will stir up 
the people, incessantly to complain of such men, till 
they are either reform d, or remov d from that sacred 
trust, which it is dangerous for them any longer to 
hold. Philanthrop may tell us of the hazard " of 
disturbing and inflaming the minds of the multitude 
whose passions know no bounds " : A traitor to the 
constitution alone can dread this : The multitude I 
am speaking of, is the body of the people no con 
temptible multitude for whose sake government is 
instituted ; or rather, who have themselves erected it, 
solely for their own good to whom even kings and 

177 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 151 

all in subordination to them, are strictly speaking, 
servants and not masters. " The constitution and its 
laws are the basis of the public tranquility the firm 
est support of the public authority, and the pledge of 
the liberty of the citizens : But the constitution is a 
vain Phantom, and the best laws are useless, if they 
are not religiously observed. The nation ought then 
to watch, and the true patriot will watch very atten 
tively, in order to render them equally respected, by 
those who govern, and the people destin d to obey " 
To violate the laws of the state is a capital crime ; 
and if those guilty of it, are invested with authority, 
they add to this crime, a perfidious abuse of the 
power with which they are entrusted : " The nation 
therefore, the people, ought to suppress those abuses 
with their utmost care & vigilance " This is the lan 
guage of a very celebrated author, whom I dare say, 
Philanthrop is well acquainted with, and will acknow 
ledge to be an authority. 

Philanthrop, I think, speaks somewhat unintelligi 
bly, when he tells us that the well being and happiness 
of the whole depends upon subordination ; as if man 
kind submitted to government, for the sake of being 
subordinate : In the state of nature there was subor 
dination : The weaker was by force made to bow 
down to the more powerful. This is still the unhappy 
lot of a great part of the world, under government : 
So among the brutal herd, the strongest horns are 
the strongest laws. Mankind have entered into 
political societies, rather for the sake of restoring 
equality ; the want of which, in the state of nature, ren 
dered existence uncomfortable and even dangerous. 

152 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

I am not of levelling principles : But I am apt to 
think, that constitution of civil government which 
admits equality in the most extensive degree, con 
sistent with the true design of government, is the 
best ; and I am of this opinion, because I agree with 
Philanthrop and many others, that man is a social 
animal. Subordination is necessary to promote the 
purposes of government ; the grand design of which 
is, that men might enjoy a greater share of the bless 
ings resulting from that social nature, and those 
rational powers, with which indulgent Heaven has 
endow d us, than they could in the state of nature : 
But there is a degree of subordination, which will for 
ever be abhorrent to the generous mind ; when it 
is extended to the very borders, if not within the 
bounds of slavery : A subordination, which is so far 
from conducing " to the welfare and happiness of the 
whole", that it necessarily involves the idea of that 
worst of all the evils of this life, a tyranny : An ab 
ject servility, which instead of " being essential to our 
existence as a people," disgraces the human nature, 
and sinks it to that of the most despicable brute. 

I cannot help thinking, that the reader must have 
observed in Philanthropes last performance, that a 
foundation is there laid for a dangerous superstruc 
ture : and that from his principles, might easily be 
delineated a plan of despotism, which however uncom 
mon it may be, for the laws and constitution of the 
state to be openly and boldly oppos d, our enemies 
have long threatened to establish by violence. If 
Philanthrop upon retrospection shall think so, he will, 
like a prudent physician, administer an antidote for 

1770 SAMUEL ADAMS. 153 

the poison : If not, I hope the attention of others 
will be awakened to that excellent maxim, " no less 
essential in politicks than in morals", principiis obsta. 
It is impolitick to make the first attempt to enslave 
mankind by force : This strikes the imagination, and 
is alarming : " Important changes insensibly happen : 
It is against silent & slow attacks that a nation ought 
to be particularly on its guard." 


Jan. I5//5. 


[Boston Gazette, January 28, 1771.] 


IN my last, I recollected the testimonies of the wit 
nesses on both sides, who related in court the be 
havior of the soldiers and the people, on the fatal 
evening of the fifth of March last. The reader, if he 
pleases, will judge ; whether the people struck the sol 
diers guns, or threw snow balls or any other thing, or 
offer d them the least violence, from their first turn 
ing out till they had march d to the custom-house, 
abused, threatned, beat and wounded the people, 
loaded their guns with powder and ball, levelled them, 
and waved them in an exasperating manner, and gave 
out that they would fire ; for, if Andrew is to be be 
lieved, he testified, that when one of the persons talk 
ing with the officer, turn d and said, " they are going 
to fire ", the people shouted, and said " they dare not 
fire ", and then they began to throw snow balls. If 
all these things were done by the soldiers, before the 

154 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

people offer d them any injury, I would ask, who made 
the first assault ? If there was an unlawful assembly, 
who were they ? Were the people the unlawful as 
sembly, who were collected together, some from an 
apprehension of fire in the town, and with the neces 
sary preparations, engines and buckets, to have ex- 
tinguish d it, if there had been one ; others from the 
more alarming apprehension, that the soldiers had 
issued from the barracks, as indeed they had done, 
and that agreable to their threatnings many days 
before, and their correspondent behavior on that very 
evening, they were massacreing the inhabitants ? 
Were they, who bore all that insolent and irritating 
language from the soldiers, as they march d from the 
main guard, and before they form d at the custom 
house ; who were push d at, struck with bayonets and 
wounded, to be charg d with being the aggressors, be 
cause they finally, when they saw them bent upon 
firing against repeated warnings, took such methods 
as their understanding dictated to them, in the midst 
of such a scene, to prevent their " committing so rash 
an act " ? An act, which it was the duty as well as 
the profess d design of their officer to have prevented ; 
and which, in the opinion of some, he might have pre 
vented if he would : And yet we find a person of 
high rank and figure in this province, testifying in 
court in the case of Capt. Preston, that such was his 
opinion of the prudence of this same officer, that he 
should have chosen him out to have commanded upon 
a like occasion. 

I believe, that in ordinary times, if a banditti of 
men of violence had been seen, with guns loaded and 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 155 

bayonets fix d, trembling with rage, and ready to fire 
upon a multitude in the street, it would have been 
counted meritorious, in any man or number of men, 
at all events to have disarm d them ; and if death had 
ensued in the attempt, perhaps it would not have 
been adjudg d excuseable homicide or manslaughter. I 
am sensible it is said by some, that it was the duty of 
the soldiers to maintain their post : It was sworn by a 
military officer in court, that " the centinel at the 
custom-house, was station d and appointed by the 
commanding officer, Lieut. Colonel Dalrymple ; that 
they could not stir from their post, and it was at their 
peril if they did " ; and Capt. Preston in his state of 
the case says, " He sent a party to protect the cen 
tinel " : But this is military language ; to be used in 
camps and garrison d towns, not in free cities ; in 
courts martial, and not in courts of common law : It 
is dangerous to adopt military maxims, however pleas 
ing they may be to some men, and to bring them into 
use in civil societies : If the centinel had been in 
danger, as was pretended, the law of the land, to 
which the most distinguish d officer in the King s 
army is subjected, would have protected that centi 
nel : Or, if there had indeed been a dangerous mob, 
the law would have suppress d it ; and no soldier 
should have dared to have interfered, as a soldier, 
without the command of a civil magistrate. 

Capt. Preston in his state has said, " The mob still 
increas d, and was more outrageous " : And what did 
he say the mob did after they became more out 
rageous ? Why, " they struck their clubs or bludg 
eons one against another : and called out, come on 

156 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

you rascals, bloody backs, lobster scoundrels, fire if 
you dare, we know you dare not fire, and much more 
such language " : But surely it will not be said, that 
all this would justify or excuse their firing : This 
was after the soldiers had insulted and wounded the 
people, and had loaded their guns and threatned to 
fire, as appears by the current evidence ; and yet 
hitherto, by his own account, we find no violence nor 
even threat offer d to the soldiers ; nothing but hard 
names and daring them to fire. He adds, " while 
I was parleying and endeavoring all in my power 
to perswade them to retire peaceably they advanced 
to the points of the bayonets, struck some of them, 
and even the muzzels of the peices " ; which corre 
sponds with the testimonies of some of the witnesses 
in court before mentioned, who said that while they 
were loading, the people struck their guns ; very 
probably, however indiscrete it might be, to prevent 
their firing. He further says " they seem d to be en 
deavoring to close in with the soldiers " : This was 
not mentioned by any witness in court, nor does it 
seem to be likely : Indeed, I cannot see how Capt. 
Preston could imagine, that they seem d to be en 
deavoring to close in with the soldiers : He says, 
" he was talking with some well behaved persons, 
who had asked him whether he intended to order the 
men to fire " : Some of the witnesses mention d the 
people s pressing in, and more naturally accounted for 
it, viz. from a curiosity " to know what was said ". 
Capt. Preston adds, " while I was thus speaking (with 
the well behaved persons, and in all likelihood at the 
very instant, when Andrew testified it was said, they 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 157 

were going to fire) one of the soldiers having received 
a severe blow with a stick, stepped a little on one side 
and instantly fired." Upon this, says Capt. Preston, 
4< a general attack was made upon the men": So 
that there was no general attack, according to his 
account, till after the firing ; which agrees with Mr. 
Bridgham and other unexceptionable witnesses in 
court, who declared, that " there was no danger to the 
soldiers from any thing they saw " " no molestation, 
nor any thing which they thought could produce fir 
ing " : Indeed, one of the witnesses for the prisoners, 
Mr. Nath. Russell testified, that " the soldiers were in 
a trembling situation, and seemed to apprehend 
themselves in immediate danger of death " ; but be 
ing interrogated, whether their trembling might not 
be the effect of rage, he replied, perhaps it might 
proceed both from fear and rage. If there had been 
such a general attack as Capt. Preston mentions, after 
one of the soldiers had actually fired, and the others 
appear d to be just ready to fire (for they all dis- 
charg d their guns in a few minutes afterwards) it 
would have been such an appearance as might natu 
rally have been expected ; and therefore Capt. Pres 
ton, who, as he says, " followed " the party for that 
very purpose, should have taken more effectual care 
than he did to have "prevented so rash an act" 
There was time enough for him to have at least pre 
vented the continuance of the firing after the first 
gun was discharg d, and consequently to have saved 
the lives of some of his Majesty s subjects ; for Mr. 
Bridgham testified, that there was half a minute be 
tween the first and the second gun. 

158 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

It seems by the evidence, that Montgomery, one of 
the prisoners, was the first who fired : It is probable 
that he was the man, whom Captain Preston men 
tions, as having received a blow : The witnesses 
varied in their testimonies concerning this fact : He 
was struck with a stick, either flung from behind or 
otherwise : Some say he was knock d down ; others, 
that he did not fall : Capt. Preston himself said, 
" he stepped a little on one side " : Mr. Palmes, who 
gave, I think, the clearest account of this matter, de 
clared, that he saw Montgomery struck ; he stepped 
or sallied back, he could not say which he did not 
fall ; he was sure he was not knock d down before he 
fired ; he could not be, & he not see it, for his hand 
was laid familiarly on Capt. Preston s shoulder, and 
the soldier stood close to the Captain ; he added, 
that he himself knock d Montgomery down, after 
they had all fired ; and the reason was, that because 
even then, he was going to prick him with his bayonet. 
It seems, the rage of passion in the breast of this sol 
dier, like that in Killroi s, had not abated, after dis 
charging his piece upon the people : His thirst was 
not even then asswaged : Upon his attempt, after 
all the firing, and while numbers were dead on the 
spot before him, to stab Mr. Palmes, he struck with 
his stick, and knock d his gun out of his hand ; 
and then he struck the first man he could, which hap 
pened to be Preston : A circumstance related by 
Preston himself, with this difference ; he says he re 
ceived the blow, as he turned to the man who fired, 
and asked him why he fired without orders ; Mr. 
Palmes said, it was after all the o-uns were fired : So 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 159 

that if Mr. Palmes was not mistaken, Capt. Preston 
did not put that necessary question, till after all the 
firing \vas over, tho there was half a minute s distance 
between the first and second gun ! Mr. Palmes spake 
upon oath in court ; Capt. Preston did not : Which 
of them was the more disinterested person, the 
reader will judge. Mr. Palmes mentioned a further 
struggle between him and Montgomery ; and the sol 
dier, after the third attempt to stab him, in missing him 
fell to the ground, and he escaped with his life. Mr. 
Danbrook saw Montgomery fire, and two persons fall 
Mr. Bass also saw the same soldier fire ; was sure 
he did not fall before he fired ; he stood where he 
must have seen it ; he thought he fell afterwards, 
which co-operates with Mr. Palmes s testimony. Mr. 
Burdick went up to one of the soldiers, whom he took 
to be the bald man (pointing at Montgomery) ; asked 
him whether he intended to fire ; he answered, yes by 
the eternal God ! A soldier push d his bayonet at 
him, upon which he struck at him a violent blow and 
hit the cock of his gun ; he saw but one thing thrown, 
and that was a short stick ; he heard a ratling, & 
took it to be the knocking of the soldiers guns to 
gether ; for the ground was slippery, and they were 
continually pushing at the people ; after the firing, 
while the people were taking up the dead, the soldiers 
began to present and cock their guns, and then the 
officer said don t fire any more. Andrew declared, 
that the soldiers were pushing with their bayonets 
all the time he was there ; and that the people (being 
advis d so to do before any gun was discharged) 
seemed to be turning awav to leave the soldiers : he 

160 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

gives a very minute account of three or four person s 
coming round Jackson s corner, with a stout man at 
their head his throwing himself in and making a 
stroke at the officer their paying upon each others 
heads and the soldiers paying upon the heads of 
the people too ; and concludes this part of his narra 
tive, with the soldiers firing : It seems however, to 
be the account of the contest between Mr. Palmes 
and Montgomery, after all the firing was over, as 
related by Mr. Palmes ; and wro t up and embel 
lished, in a manner in which Andrew was said to be 
capable of doing, and sometimes to have done upon 
occasions of mirth, and to divert company. 

It appears from what has been said, that after the 
Soldiers had repeatedly put the lives of individuals 
in danger, by pushing them with their bayonets and 
stabbing them ; and had loaded their guns and 
threatned to fire upon the multitude indiscriminately, 
and the people had reason to apprehend they were 
just about to put their threats into execution, by a 
stick thrown as is most probable, Montgomery re 
ceived a blow : That this was tho t by him sufficient 
provocation to fire upon the people, by which one of 
the witnesses said, two persons were killed ; that 
Capt. Preston, at so alarming a juncture took no 
method to prevent the rest from firing, if what was 
testified, in court is to be credited ; or, if his own 
account must be rely d upon, he exerted no authority 
over his men, but used expostulations only : " I asked 
him (who first fired and as soon as he had fired) why 
he fired without order " ; very faintly said indeed, by 
a gentleman in command, and who had followed the 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 161 

party to " prevent their committing a rash act": 
What ensued was enough to show, either that he had 
no command over the men, or that they did not ap 
prehend he was much adverse to their firing ; for they 
soon after fired, and as we are told, without orders 
That after they had all fired, Montgomery made 
three attempts to stab Mr. Palmes, who defended 
himself, and with difficulty escaped with his life 
That the Soldiers had even at that time, again loaded 
their guns and were then, ready to repeat the bloody 
"action", and fire upon the people as they were 
taking care of the dead ! Then, for the first time, we 
hear of a positive order from Capt. Preston " don t fire 
any more " : His order before should have been, " don t 
fire by any means ", or some other order equivalent 
to the last, and more regular perhaps than either. 
It further appeared by the evidence in court, that 
when the first gun was fired, the people began to dis 
perse : Mr. Bridgham, whose testimony I presume, 
will not be disputed, said "they retired after the first 
gun " : Was it not then " such malignity as might 
hardly have been expected from barbarians," to con 
tinue firing ! Astonishing as it may be to humanity, 
this they did : And being resolved to do further exe 
cution, Mr. Williams, a person of known credit, testi 
fied, that " they waved their guns at the people as 
they ran " : And what, if possible, is still more bar 
barous, the last man that fired, as Mr. Bridgham testi 
fied, " level d his gun at a boy, and mov d it along, 
with the motion of the lad " ; which testimony, if it 
needs it, is confirmed by that of Mr. Helyer: Both 
agreed that the lad was not wounded. 

VOL. ii. ii. 

i6 2 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

" I shall make no further comments ; there needs 
none " : I will just say, that however safely Philan- 
throp may speak, when he tells us, that " no indi 
vidual can have a right, openly to complain or 
murmur " ; if the times at present were even such, as 
not to allow one openly to declare the utmost detes 
tation of such slavish doctrine, I would still venture 
to declare my opinion to all the world, that no indi 
vidual is bound, nor is it in the power of the tyrants 
of the earth to bind him, to acquiesce in any decision, 
that upon the best enquiry, he cannot in his con 
science approve of. I pretend not to judge the 
hearts of men : The " temptations that some men 
could be under, to act otherwise than conformably to 
the sentiments of their own hearts" are obvious : But 
I would ask Philanthrop, whether, if a man should 
openly say, that those temptations have had their 
genuine effects, he would not expose himself to have 
a bill of information filed against him, by the attorney 
general, and to be dealt with in a summary way. 

As it was published to the world by Mr. Draper, 
that the witnesses in the trial of the custom-house 
officers, were not credited, I may possibly hereafter, 
when I shall be more at leisure, make that the sub 
ject of a free enquiry. 


1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 163 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; the text is in W. V. Wells, 
Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., p. 383.] 

BOSTON [March 12] 1771 


Your Letter of the i Sept 1770 has been laid before 
the Town of Boston at their annual Meeting & at 
tended to with great Satisfaction, and we are ap 
pointed a Committee to return a respectfull Answer. 
Accordingly we take this Opportunity in Behalf of 
the Town to acknowledge the kind Sentiments your 
Letter expresses towards us and to intreat you to 
employ your Abilities for our Advantage whenever a 
favorable Opportunity may present. We are very 
sensible that you have an arduous Task in resisting 
the Torrent of Oppression & arbitrary Power in Ire 
land : a kingdom where the brutal power of standing 
Armies, & the more fatal Influence of pensions & 
places has left, it is to be feard, hardly any thing 
more than the Name of a free Constitution. We 
wish you Strength & fortitude to persevere in patri- 
otick Exertions. Your Labour will meet with its 
immediate & constant Reward, in the most peaceful 
& happy Reflections of your own mind amidst the 
greatest discouragements ; and be assured that the 
Man who nobly vindicates the Rights of his Country 
& Mankind shall stand foremost in the List of fame. 

1 Of Dublin. Cf, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xxxiv., p. 231. 
The committee which reported this letter was appointed March 12, and con 
sisted of James Bowdoin, Joseph Warren, Samuel Pemberton, Richard Dana 
and Adams. Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. xviii., p. 46. 

Franklin wrote to Bowdoin, January 13, 1772 : "In Ireland, among the 
patriots, I dined with Dr. Lucas." J. Bigelow, Complete Works of Benjamin 
Franklin, vol. iv., p. 439. 

164 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON April 19 1771. 


Your Letter of the 31 Dec 1 which I receivd by 
Cap Scott a few days past affords me great Satisfac 
tion ; especially as it promises a Correspondence 
which I dare say will be carried on with an Openness 
& Sincerity becoming those who are anxiously con- 
cernd for the publick Liberty at so alarming a Crisis. 1 
Perhaps there never was a time when the political Af 
fairs of America were in a more dangerous State ; 
Such is the Indolence of Men in general, or their Inat 
tention to the real Importance of things, that a steady 
& animated perseverance in the rugged path of Virtue 
at the hazard of trifles is hardly to be expected. The 
Generality are necessarily engagd in Application to 
private Business for the Support of their own families 
and when at a lucky Season the publick are awakened 
to a Sense of Danger, & a manly resentment is en 
kindled, it is difficult, for so many separate Communi 
ties as there are in all the Colonies, to agree in one 
consistent plan of Opposition while those who are 
the appointed Instruments of Oppression, have all the 
Means put into their hands, of applying to the pas 
sions of Men & availing themselves of the Necessi 
ties of some, the Vanity of others & the timidity 
of all. 

1 On January 10, 1771, Lee wrote to Adams: " Our friend Mr. Sayre has 
done me the favour of communicating to me your very obliging invitation to a 
correspondence." R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. i., p. 249. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 165 

I have long thought that a Design has been on foot to 
render ineffectual the Democratical part of this Gov 
ernment, even before the province was cursd with 
the Appointment of Bernard, and so unguarded have 
the people been in former times, so careless in the \ 
Choice of their representatives as to send too many 
who either through Ignorance or Wickedness have 
favord that Design. Of late the lower house of 
Assembly have been more sensible of this Danger 
& supported in some Measure their own Weight, 
which has alarmd the Conspirators and been in my 
opinion the true Source of Bernards Complaint 
against them as having set up a faction against the 
Kings Authority. The 4 Judges of the Supreme 
Court, the Secretary & the Kings Attourny who had 
been Councellors were left out at the annual Election 
in 1 766 ; this gave great offence to the Gov r , and 
was followd with two Speeches to both Houses perhaps 
as infamous & irritating as ever came from a Stuart 
to the English parliam*. 1 Happy indeed it was for 
the Province that such a Man was at the Head of it, 
for it occasiond such a Jealousy & Watchfulness in 
the people as prevented their immediate & total 

The plan however is still carried on tho in a Man- \ 
ner some what different ; and that is by making the 
Governor altogether independent of the People for 
his Support ; this is depriving the House of Repre 
sentatives of the only Check they have upon him 
& must consequently render them the Objects of the 
Contempt of a Corrupt Administration. Thus the 

1 See Vol. I., pages 79, 83. 

1 66 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

peoples Money being first taken from them without 
their Consent, is appropriated for the Maintenance 
of a Governor at the Discretion of one in the King 
dom of Great Britain upon whom he absolutely 
depends for his Support. If this be not a Tyranny I 
am at a Loss to conceive what a Tyranny is. The 
House of Representatives did a few days since, grant 
the Gov r the usual Sum for his Support and it is 
expected that this Matter will be made certain upon 
his refusal of it. The Gov r of New York was explicit 
at the late Session of their Assembly, upon the like 
Occasion : But I confess I should not be surprisd 
if our good Gov r , should accept the Grant & discount 
it out of what he is to receive out of the Kings Chest ; 
thinking it will be conceivd by the Minister as highly 
meritorious in him, in thus artfully concealing his In 
dependency (for the Apprehension of it is alarming 
to the people) & saving ^"1000 sterling of the revenue 
at the same time. 

While the Representative Body of the people is 
thus renderd a mere Name, it is . . . considerd 
that the other Branch of the Legislative tho annually 
elective, is at the same time subject to the Gover 
nors Negative : A Consideration which I doubt not 
has its full Weight in the minds of some of them 
at least, whenever any Matter comes before them 
which they can possibly think will affect the Measures 
of Administration. You will easily conjecture how 
far this may tend to annihilate that Branch or pro 
duce Effects more fatal. 

It seems then that we are in effect to be under the ab 
solute Governm 4 of one Man ostensively the Gover- 

i77i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 167 

nor of the province but in Reality some other person 
residing in Great Britain, whose Instructions the Gov r 
must punctually observe upon pain of forfeiting his 
place. So that any little advantage that might now 
& then arise from his happening to form Connections 
with wise Men in the province are totally lost. As 
Matters are now circumstancd he must associate with 
Pensioners, Commissioners of the Customs Officers 
of the Army & Navy, Tools Sycophants & c who to 
gether with him are to make such representations as 
to them shall seem meet, & joyntly if Occasion shall 
require it, execute such Orders as they shall from 
time to time receive. Such is to be the happy Gov 
ernment of free British Subjects in America. I will 
however do Gov r Hutchinson the Justice to say that 
tho he may 1 . . . yet he has a very natural Con 
nection with some of the principal Gentlemen Inhabi 
tants of the province for his Excellencys own Brother is 
a Justice of the Superior Court, & also a Judge of the 
probate of Wills & he has also a Brother by marriage 
upon the same superior Bench. Moreover the L 1 
Gov r is his Brother by marriage who has an own 
Brother & a Brother by marriage who are justices of 
the Superior Court. As these Gentlemen are Natives 
of the province it is hoped the Channells of Justice 
will remain unpolluted notwithstanding his Excel 
lencys other Connections. 

1 At this point the words " mar a State of Absolute Independency in both 
Houses of Assembly " are erased in the draft. 

1 68 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with modifications, is in 
Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 296, 297 ; a text is also in Journal of the 
House of Representatives , 7770-7777, pp. 241, 242.] 

In the House of Representatives April 24 1771 

Orderd that M r Hancock M r Adams M r Ingersol 
of Great Barrington Capt Brown & Capt Darby be a 
Committee to wait on his Excellency the Governor 
with the following Answer to his Speech to both 
Houses at the Opening of this Session. 

May it please your Excellency. 

The House of Representatives have given all due 
Attention to your Speech to both Houses at the 
Opening of this Session. 

The violent proceedings of the Spanish Governor 
of Buenos Ayres in dispossessing his Majestys Sub 
jects of their Settlement at Port Egmont, has raisd 
the Indignation of all, who have a just Concern for 
the Honor of the British Crown. Such an Act of 
Hostility, we conceive could not but be followd with 
the most spirited Resolution on the part of the Brit 
ish Administration, to obtain a Satisfaction fully 
adequate to the Insult offerd to his Majesty, & the 
Injuries his Subjects there have sustaind. Your Ex 
cellency tells us that it is probable Satisfaction may 
have been made; for this Hostile act of the Span 
iards : If it is so, the publick Tranquility of his 
Majestys Dominions so far as it has been disturbd, 
by this unwarrantable Proceeding, is again restored ; 
and therefore it seems to us reasonable to suppose, that 
the proposd Plan of Augmentation of Troops on the 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 169 

British Establishment is already receded from ; which 
renders any Consideration upon that Subject on our 
part unnecessary. 

We owe our Gratitude to his Majesty for his 
repeated Assurances expressd to your Excellency by 
his Secretary of State, that the Security of his Domin 
ions in America, will be a principal Object of his 
most gracious Care & Attention. This Province has 
frequently in times past expended much Blood & 
Treasure for the Enlargement as well as the Support 
of those Dominions : And when our natural & consti 
tutional Rights & Liberties, without which no Bless 
ing can be secure to us, shall be fully restord & 
establishd upon a firm Foundation, as we shall then 
have the same Reasons and Motives therefor as here 
tofore, we shall not fail to continue those Exertions 
with the utmost Chearfulness & to the Extent of our 

As your Excellency has no particular interior Busi 
ness of the Province to lay before us, it would have 
given us no uneasiness, if an End had been put to 
the present Assembly, rather than to have been again 
called to this Place : And we are unwilling to admit 
the Beliefe, that when the Season for calling a new 
Assembly agreable to the Charter shall arrive, your 
Excellency will continue an Indignity, & a Grievance 
so flagrant & so repeatedly remonstrated by both 
Houses as the Deforcement of the General Assembly 
of its ancient & Rightful Seat. 1 

1 On April 3 the House had appointed a committee, and on April 4 two 
committees, in connection with the requests to the Governor to remove the 
General Court to Boston. Adams was a member of each of these committees. 

170 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

Your Excellency is pleasd to acquaint us in Form, 
that you have receivd his Majestys Commission 
appointing you Captain General & Commander in 
Chiefe in and over the Province. Your having had 
your Birth & Education in this Province, and sus- 
taind the highest Honors which your Fellow Subjects 
could bestow, cannot fail to be the strongest Motives 
with your Excellency to employ those Powers which 
you are now vested with, for his Majestys real Ser 
vice & the best Interest of this People. The Duties 
of the Governor & Governed are reciprocal : And by 
our happy Constitution their Dependence is mutual : 
Nothing can more effectually produce & establish 
that Order and Tranquility in the Province so often 
disturbd under the late unfortunate Administration : 
Nothing will tend more to conciliate the Affections 
of this People, & ensure to your Excellency those 
Aids which you will constantly stand in Need of from 
their Representatives, than, as a wise and faithful 
Administrator to make Use of the publick Power, 
with a View only to the publick Welfare : And while 
your Excy shall religiously regard the Constitution of 
this Province ; while you shall maintain its funda 
mental Laws, so necessary to secure the publick 
Tranquility, you may be assured, that his Majestys 
faithful Commons of this Province, will never be 
wanting in their utmost Exertions to support you in 
all such measures, as shall be calculated for the 
publick Good, & to render your Administration pros 
perous & happy. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 171 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text, with modifications, is in 
Massachusetts State Papers, p. 298 ; a text is also in Journal of the House 
of Representatives, 1770-1771, p. 246.] 

In the House of Representatives April 25 1771 

Orderd that M r Sam 1 Adams Brig Ruggles M r 
Hersy Coll Bowers & M r Godfrey be a Committee 
to wait on his Excellency with the following message. 

May it please your Excellency. 

The House of Representatives after Enquiry of 
the Secretary cannot be made certain whether you 
have yet given your Assent to two Bills which were 
laid before your Excellency early in this Session : 
The one for granting the Sum pf five hundred and 
Six pounds for your Services when Lieutenant Gov 
ernor and Commander in Chiefe ; and the other for 
granting the usual Sum of Thirteen hundred Pounds 
to enable your Excellency, as Governor, to carry on 
the Affairs of this Province. 

And as your Excellency was not pleasd to give 
your Assent to another Bill passd in the last Session 
of this Assembly, for granting the Sum of three 
hundred & twenty five pounds for your Services, 
when in the Chair, as Lieutenant Governor, the 
House are apprehensive that you are under some 
Restraint ; and they cannot account for it upon any 
other Principle, but your having Provision for your 

1 On April 24, Adams moved that the House send a message to the Governor 
asking whether provision had been made for his support independently of the 
legislature. The motion was carried, and Adams was named as the first mem 
ber of the committee to prepare such a message. On April 25, he was named 
as the first of a committee to present the message to the Governor. 

172 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

Support, in some new and unprecedented manner. 
If the Apprehensions of the House are not ground 
less, they are sollicitous to be made certain of it, 
before an End is put to the present Session; 1 and 
think it their Duty to pray your Excellency to inform 
them, whether any provision is made for your Sup 
port, as Governor of this Province, independent of 
his Majestys Commons in it. 

[Boston Gazette, June 10, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

BENEVOLUS, in Mr. Draper s Gazette seems to have 
no doubts in his mind, but that "a general air of 
satisfaction arising from the accounts given in the 
last Monday s papers of the present state of our 
publick affairs will shew itself universally thro the 
province." I have no inclination to disturb the sweet 
repose of this placid gentleman ; but I must confess 
I see no cause for such a general air of satisfaction 
from those accounts, and I will venture to add, that 
there is no appearance of it in this town Does 
Benevolus think it possible for the good people of 
this province to be satisfied, when they are told by 
the Governor, as appears by the last Monday s papers, 
that he is restrained from holding the court in its 
antient, usual and most convenient place without his 
Majesty s express leave ? Does not the charter say 
that the Governor shall have the power of acting in 

1 The General Court was dissolved on April 26. 

i 7 7i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 173 

this matter " as he shall judge necessary" ? Is it not 
of great importance to the welfare of the province 
that the Governor should be vested with such a 
power, and that he should exercise it without re 
straint ? While he is, or thinks himself fetter d, by 
an absolute instruction to hold the assembly out of 
the town of Boston, to the inconvenience of the mem 
bers and the injury of the people, as the present 
House of Representatives express it, can he be said 
to have the free exercise of all the powers vested in 
him by the charter, which is our social compact ? Will 
it yield such a general satisfaction to the people as 
Benevolus. expects, to see their Governor thus em 
barrass d in his administration, and to hear him ex 
pressly declaring, that he must ask leave, and be 
determin d by the judgment of another in the matter 
in which it is his indispensible duty to act with free 
dom, and by the determination of his own judgment. 
Is not this power devolv d upon him by the consti 
tution of the province for the good of the people ? Is 
it not a beneficiary grant, and therefore a right of 
the people ? And if instructions may controul him 
in the exercise of one charter right, may they not 
controul in the exercise of any or every one ? And 
yet Benevolus would fain have it thought that there 
is a general satisfaction in the town of Boston arising 
from this account, and doubts not but it will run 
thro the province. Does not the present House of 
Representatives in their Remonstrance to the Gov 
ernor against the holding the assembly at Cambridge, 
instead of " departing from the principles " as Benevo- 
lus would insinuate, adopt the remonstrances of the 

174 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

two houses of the last year as founded upon just 
principles ? Do they not tell his Excellency that the 
holding the assembly at Cambridge " was consider d 
as a GRIEVANCE by the people in general in the prov 
ince ; and that while it is continued it will have a 
tendency to prevent a restoration of that harmony, 
between the several branches of the general assembly, 
which is so earnestly to be desired by all good men " ? 
And is it so pleasant a story to be told to the people 
of the province, that the Governor either cannot, or 
will not, remove a Grievance of so fatal a tendency, 
though expressly vested by the charter with the power 
of doing it if he pleases, without asking leave to do 
it? How then can Benevolus possibly entertain the 
least hopes that a general air of satisfaction will run 
thro the province ? Is not this Instruction a novelty f 
Was ever a Governor before thus restrain d ? And 
is it not a mortifying circumstance that a gentleman 
from whom the clergy of the province, (I mean the 
goodly number of SEVENTEEN out of near four hun 
dred in the province, full seven eighths of whom never 
heard that an address was intended^) have express d 
the most sanguine expectations as being born and 
educated among us, and who we are told accepted 
the government with great reluctance, should submit 
to be shackled with an instruction so grievous to 
the people while it is obey d : And if HE is as re- 
solv d as any other Governor would be, to make 
Instructions the rule of his governing, and give them 
the force of laws in this province, as he certainly ap 
pears to be, what " distinguishing mark of favor" is 
it, or what satisfaction can it afford the people in 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 175 

general, that " a native of the province is appointed 
to preside over it " ? Surely Benevolus must either 
be totally inadvertent to the accounts of the state of 
our publick affairs as given to us in the last Mondays 
papers, or he must have altogether confided in the 
accounts of a confused writer in the Evening-Post, 
who in the old stile of the hackney d writers in Ber 
nard s administration, tells us that FACTION is now at 
an end ; and with an awkward air of gravity insinu 
ates, that the people, after having nobly struggled 
for their freedom, are, under the benign influence of 
the present administration, " returning to their right 
senses". A firm and manly opposition to the at 
tempts that have been made, and are still making, to 
enslave and ruin this continent, has always been 
branded by writers of this stamp, with the n&me of a 
FACTION. Governor Bernard used to tell his Lord 
ship, that it was an "expiring faction " ; with as little 
reason it is now said to have given up the ghost : 
Gladly would some, even of the Clergy, persuade this 
people to be at ease ; and for the sake of peace under 
the administration of "a son of the province", to 
acquiesce in unconstitutional revenue acts, arbitrary 
ministerial mandates, and absolute despotic indepen 
dent governors, &c. &c. But the time is not yet 
come ; and I am satisfied that, notwithstanding the 
address of a few who took the opportunity to carry it 
through, while only the small number of twenty-four 
were present, there is in that venerable order a great 
majority, who will not go up to the house of Rimmon, 
or bow the knee to Baal. 


176 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

[Boston Gazette, June 17, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

It is not very material whether the Address of the 
Convention of the Clergy, as it is called by the Lay 
man, in Mr. Draper s last Paper, was the Act of 
seventeen or twenty three Gentlemen, or whether 
there were only twenty-four or thirty present, when 
the Vote was procured. Be it as it may, it is a Ques 
tion, why this Matter was bro t on and finished so 
early, and when so small a Number as thirty, if so 
many, were present. It is said that after the Address 
was Voted, the Number increased to Sixty ; and 
upon a Proposal to reconsider the Vote, " not above 
Ten of that Number voted for such Reconsidera 
tion." Allowing this to be the Case, it appears, that 
not more than one in seven of the Congregational 
Clergy of this Province were at the Meeting, and in all 
Probability seven-eights of that Denomination never 
heard that an Address was intended ; for I am told, that 
upon a moderate Computation, their Number in the 
Province is at least upwards of Four-Hundred. I 
should be glad therefore, if the Reverend Doctor who 
presided at the Meeting, would inform us, with what 
Propriety the World is told, that this was " the Address 
of the Congregational Ministers of the Province." 

For my own Part, I pay very little Regard to Ad 
dresses to Great Men : Whenever they appear to be 
but the Breath of Flattery, they must be offensive to 
the Ears of any Man who has the Feelings of Truth 
and Sincerity in his own Breast. There is no Ques 
tion but the Clergy have a Right to address whom 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 177 

they please ; and it is not strange to find some of 
them ready to make their Compliments to a Gover 
nor It is in Course : But of all Men, we are to ex 
pect from them, even upon such Occasions, Examples 
of that Simplicity and godly Sincerity, which we so 
often hear them inculcate from the Pulpit. I do not 
pretend to charge them with a Failure in this In 
stance : But I cannot help thinking, that rather more 
of those excellent Christian Graces would have ap 
peared in these Reverend Addressers, if they had 
ascertained the Number present. This might have 
prevented a Mistake in many of the distant Readers, 
who may possibly conceive that "so kind, so affec 
tionate an Address," contained the declared Senti 
ments of a Majority at least of the " respectable and 
venerable " Body of the Clergy of the Province ; 
which cannot be true, if in Fact not more than a 
seventh Part of them knew any Thing about it. I 
am with due Veneration for " the Congregational Min 
isters of the Province." CANDIDUS. 


[Boston Gazette, July 29, 1771 ; a text from the Bowdoin MS. is in Proceedings 
of Massachusetts Historical Society, Ser. I., vol. viii., pp. 468-473.] 

g IR June 29, 1771. 

Your letter of the 5th of February 2 has been laid 
before the House : The contents are important and 
claim our fixed attention. 

1 Page 46, note, applies also to the authorship of this letter. 

9 J. Bigelow, Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin, vol. iv., p. 378. 

VOL. II. 12. 

178 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

We cannot think the doctrine of the right of Par 
liament to tax us is given up, while an act remains in 
force for that purpose, and is daily put in execution ; 
and the longer it remains the more danger there is of 
the people s becoming so accustomed to arbitrary and 
unconstitutional taxes, as to pay them without dis 
content ; and then, as you justly observe, no Minister 
will ever think of taking them off, but will rather be 
encouraged to add others. If ever the provincial 
assemblies should be voluntarily silent, on the Parlia 
ment s taking upon themselves a power thus to vio 
late our constitutional and Charter Rights, it might 
be considered as an approbation of it, or at least a 
tacit consent, that such a power should be exercised 
at any future time. It is therefore our duty to de 
clare our Rights and our determined Resolution at 
all times to maintain them : The time we know will 
come, when they must be acknowledged, established 
and secured to us and our posterity. 
/We severely feel the effects, not of a revenue raised, 
but a tribute extorted, without our free consent or con- 
troul. Pensioners and Placemen are daily multiply 
ing ; and fleets and standing armies posted in North 
America, for no other apparent or real purpose, than 
to protect the exactors and collectors of the tribute ; 
for which they are to be maintained, & many of 
them in pomp & pride to triumph over and insult an 
injured people, and suppress if possible, even their 
murmurs. And there is reason to expect, that the 
continual increase of their numbers will lead to a pro 
portionable increase of a tribute to support them. 
What would be the consequence ? Either on the 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 179 

one hand, an abject slavery in the people, which is j 
ever to be deprecated ; or, a determined resolution, 
openly to assert and maintain their rights, liberties 
and privileges.; The effects of such a resolution may 
for some time be retarded by flattering hopes and 
prospects ; and while it is the duty of all persons of 
influence here to inculcate the sentiments of modera 
tion, it will in our opinion, be equally the wisdom of 
the British administration, to consider the danger of 
forcing a free people by oppressive measures into a 
state of desperation. We have reason to believe 
that the American Colonies, however they may have 
disagreed among themselves in one mode of oppo 
sition to arbitrary measures, are still united in the 
main principles of constitutional & natural liberty ; 
and that they will not give up one single point in 
contest of any importance, tho they may take no vio 
lent measures to obtain them.-^-The taxing their 
property without their consent, and thus appropriat 
ing it to the purposes of their slavery and destruction, ^ 
is justly considered, as contrary to and subversive of 
their original social compact, and their intention in 
uniting under it :/ They cannot therefore readily 
think themselves obliged to renounce those forms of 
government, to which alone for the advantages im- 
ply d or resulting, they were willing to submit. We ~~\ 
are sensible, as you observe, that the design of our 
enemies in England, as well as those who reside here, 
is to render us odious as well as contemptible, and to 
prevent all concern for us in the friends of liberty in 
England ; and perhaps to detach our Sister Colonies ^ 
from us, and prevent their aid and influence in our 

i8o THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

behalf, when the projects of oppressing us further 
and depriving us of our Rights by various violent 
measures, should be carried into execution. In this 
however, we flatter ourselves they have failed : But 
should all the other Colonies become weary of their 
liberties, after the example of the Hebrews, this 
Province we trust, will never submit to the authority 
of an absolute government. 

We are now led to take notice of another fatal 
consequence, which we are under strong apprehen 
sions will follow from these parliamentary revenue 
laws ; and that is, the making the governors of the 
colonies, and other officers, independent of the people 
for their support. You tell us there is no doubt of 
such intention, and that it will be persisted in, if the 
American revenue is found sufficient. We are the 
more inclin d to believe it, not only because the gov 
ernor of the province of New-York has openly de 
clared it with regard to himself, to the assembly 
there ; but because the present governor of this 
province has repeatedly refused to accept of the 
usual grant for his support, tho he has not been so 
explicit as to assign a reason for it. The charter of 
this province recognizes the natural Right of all men 
to dispose of their property : And the governor here, 
like all other governors, kings and potentates, is to 
be supported by the free grants of the Representa 
tives of the people. Every one sees the necessity of 
this to preserve the balance of power and the free 
dom of any state : A power without a check, is sub 
versive of all freedom : If therefore the governor, 
who is appointed by the crown, shall be totally inde- 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 181 

pendent of the free grants of the people for his 
support, where is the check upon his power? He 
becomes absolute and may act as he pleases : He 
may make use of his power, not for the good of those 
who are under it, but for his own private separate 
advantage, or any other purpose to which he may be 
inclined, or instructed by him upon whom alone he 
depends. Such an independency threatens the very 
being of a free constitution ; and if it takes effect, 
will produce and firmly establish a tyranny upon its 
ruin. The act of parliament of the 7 Geo. 3. 1 intitled, 
" An act for granting certain duties in the Colo 
nies, &c." declares That it is expedient that a reve 
nue should be raised in his Majesty s dominions in 
America, for making more certain and adequate pro 
vision for the defraying the charge of the administra 
tion of justice, and the support of civil government 
in such colonies where it shall be found necessary ; 
and, towards further defreying the expences of de 
fending, protecting and securing the said dominions. 
These are the very purposes for which this govern 
ment by the Charter is empowered to grant taxes : 
So that by the act aforementioned, the Charter is in 
effect made void. Agreeable to the design of that 
act, the governor it seems is first to be made inde 
pendent ; and in pursuance of the plan of despotism, 
the judges of the land, and all other important civil 
officers, successively : Next follows an independent 
military power, to compleat the ruin of our civil lib 
erties. Let us then consider the power the Governor 
already has, and his Majesty s negative on all our 

1 Chap. 46. 

1 82 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

acts, and judge whether the purposes of tyranny will 
not be amply answered ! Can it be expected that 
any law will pass here, but such as will promote the 
favourite design ? And the laws already made, as 
they will be executed by officers altogether de 
pendent on the crown, will undoubtedly be perverted 
to the worst purposes. The governor of the province, 
and the principal fortress in it, are probably already 
thus supported. These are the first fruits of the 
system : If the rest should follow, it would be only 
in a greater degree, a violation of our essential, 
natural rights. For what purpose then will it be to 
preserve the old forms without the substance? In 
such a state, and with such prospects, can Britain ex 
pect anything but a gloomy discontent in the Colo 
nies ? Let our fellow-subjects there recollect, what 
would have been their fate long ago, if their ancestors 
had submitted to the unreasonable and uncharitable 
usurpations, exactions and impositions of the See of 
Rome, in the reign of Henry the VIII. Soon would 
they have sunk into a state of abject slavery to that 
haughty power, which exalteth itself above all that is 
called God : But they had the true spirit of liberty, 
and by exerting it, they saved themselves and their 
posterity; The act of parliament passed in the 25th 
of that reign, 1 is so much to our present purpose, that 
we cannot omit transcribing a part of it, and refer 
you to the statute at large. In the preamble it is de 
clared, that " the realm of England hath been and is 
free from subjection to any man s law but only to 
such as have been devised, made and ordained within 

1 Chap. 21. The quotation from the statute is inexact. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 183 

the realm for the wealth of the same." And further, 
" it standeth therefore with natural equity and good 
reason, that in every such law humane made within 
this realm by the said sufferance, consents and cus 
toms, your Royal Majesty and your Lords spiritual 
and temporal and Commons representing the whole 
state of your realm in this your Majesty s high court 
of parliament, hath full power and authority, not only 
to dispense, but also to authorize some elect person or 
persons to be sent to dispense with those and all 
other humane laws in this your realm, and with every 
one of them, as the quality of the persons and matter 
may require. And also the said laws and every one 
of them to abrogate, annul, amplify or diminish, as it 
shall seem to your Majesty and the Nobles and Com 
mons of your realm present in parliament meet and 
convenient for the wealth of your realm. And be 
cause that it is now in these days present seen, that 
the state, dignity and superiority, reputation and au 
thority of the said imperial crown of this realm, by 
the long sufferance of the said unreasonable and 
uncharitable usurpation and exaction is much and 
sore decayed, and the people of this realm thereby 
much impoverished." It is then enacted, that " no 
person or persons of the realm, or of any other his 
Majesty s dominions, shall from henceforth pay any 
pensions, censes, portions, peter pence, or any other 
impositions to the use of the said Bishop of the See 
of Rome ; but that all such pensions, &c. which the 
said Bishop or Pope hath heretofore taken shall 
clearly surcease, and never more be levied or paid to 
any person or persons in any manner or wise." 

1 84 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

Nothing short of the slavery and ruin of the nation 
would have been the consequence of their submitting 
to those exactions : And the same will be the fate of 
America, if the present revenue laws remain, and the 
natural effect of them, the making governors inde 
pendent, takes place. 

It is therefore with entire approbation that we ob 
serve your purpose freely to declare our Rights, and 
to remonstrate against the least infringement of 
them. The capital complaint of all North- America, 
hath been, is now and will be until relieved, a subju 
gation to as arbitrary a tribute as ever the Romans 
laid upon the Jews, or their other colonies : The 
repealing these duties in part is not considered by 
this house as a renunciation of the measure: It has 
rather the appearance of a design to sooth us into 
security in the midst of danger : Any species of 
tribute unrepealed, will stand as a precedent, to be 
made use of hereafter as circumstances and oppor 
tunity may admit : If the Colonies acquiesce in a 
single instance, it will in effect be yielding up the 
whole matter and controversy. We therefore desire 
it may be universally understood, that altho the 
tribute is paid, it is not paid freely : It is extorted 
and torn from us against our will : We bear the 
insult and the injury for the present, grievous as it is, 
with great impatience ; hoping that the wisdom and 
prudence of the nation will at length dictate measures 
consistent with natural justice and equity : For what 
shall happen in future, We are not answerable : 
Your observation is just, that it was certainly as bad 
policy, when they attempted to heal our differences, 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 185 

by repealing part of the duties only, as it is bad 
Surgery to leave splinters in a wound which must 
prevent its healing, or in time occasion it to open 

The doctrine, that no agent ought to be received or 
attended to by government, who is not appointed by 
an act of the general court, to which the governor has 
given his assent, if established, must be attended with 
very ill consequences ; for, besides the just remarks 
you made upon it, if whatever is to be transacted be 
tween the assemblies of the Colonies and the gov 
ernment, is to be done by agents appointed by and 
under the direction of the three branches, it will be 
utterly impracticable for an assembly ever to lay be 
fore the Sovereign their complaints of grievances oc 
casioned by the corrupt and arbitrary administration 
of a governor. This doctrine, we have reason to 
think, was first advanced by governor Bernard, at a 
time when he became the principal agent in involving 
the nation and the Colonies in controversy and con 
fusion : Very probably, it now becomes a subject of 
instruction to governor Hutchinson 1 who refuses to 
confirm the grants of the Assembly to the Agents for 
the respective houses. In this he carries the point 
beyond Governor Bernard who assented to grants 
made in general terms for services performed, without 
holding up the name of agent : But governor Hutch 
inson declines his assent even in that form ; so that 
we are reduced to a choice of difficulties, either to 

1 Since the writing of this letter an Instruction of this kind is ar 
rived, which has been communicated by the Governor to his Majesty s 
Council ; and is recorded in their Journal ! 

1 86 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

have no agent at all, but such as shall be under the 
influence of the minister ; or to find some other way 
to support an agent than by grants of the general as 
sembly. But we are fallen into times, when governors 
of colonies seem to think themselves bound to con 
form to instructions, without any regard to the civil 
constitution, or even the public safety. 

[Boston Gazette, July I, 1771.] 


The Layman, who again appeared in Mr. Draper s 
last Thursday s Gazette, is sollicitous to know why 
Candidus "pitched upon the specific Number seven 
teen, as present at the late Convention of the Clergy, 
and voting for an Address to his Excellency the Gov 
ernor ; and further, he asks, Whether " it was not 
purposely done to throw an undeserved Reproach on 
that reverend Body." I will endeavour to answer 
the Layman in a Manner not "militating," as he 
charges me with having done before, "with my as 
sumed denomination." I mentioned that " specific 
number," because I was told by several reverend Gen 
tlemen who were present at the Convention, that 
the Address was bro t on early, when only twenty-four 
had got together ; and that of this number, seventeen 
only voted in favor of it. I own I thought it unlucky, 
that the precise Number seventeen should appear to 
countenance the Address, because I agree with the 
Layman that it has of late become an " obnoxious 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 187 

Number." I have Reason to think I was truly in 
formed ; if it was a misrepresentation, the Reverend 
Doctor who presided at the Meeting, may set us right, 
if he thinks it worth his While. I am still of Opinion, 
that is immaterial to my Purpose, whether twenty-four 
or thirty Gentlemen were present, when the Address 
was carried through ; either of those numbers being 
very inconsiderable, when compared with the whole 
Number of Congregational Ministers in the Province, 
which is said to be at least four Hundred. Allowing 
that the Number, after the Address had passed, was 
augmented to Sixty, and that Fifty of them were 
against reconsidering the Matter, it is not certainly to 
be inferred from thence, that all those Fifty would 
have voted for an Address, if they had been present 
when it was first proposed. But however that might 
be, the Propriety (to say the least) of calling it, An 
Address of the Congregational Ministers of the Prov 
ince, when not more than about One in Seven of 
them were present, or in any Likelihood ever had 
heard that any Address was intended, yet remains a 
Question : And I again say, I should be glad to see 
it reconciled with that Simplicity and Godly Sincerity 
which we often hear inculcated from the Pulpit. The 
Layman supposes, that it is with the Convention as 
" with other Corporate Bodies, convened at stated 
Time and Place " Now other corporate Bodies are 
notified of the Matters to be transacted at Time & 
Place; but no Notice was given to "the Congrega 
tional Ministers of the Province" that an Address to 
his Excellency the Governor was to be proposed ; 
and as this is said to be the first Instance of an 

i88 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

Address to a Governor ever made by the Convention, 
it is not likely that seven-eighths of them, who were 
absent, ever had it in contemplation. But after all, I 
would ask, " with Modesty, Decency, and Charity," 
and with Humility too, all which I take to be excel 
lent Christian Graces, as well as Sincerity ; by what 
Authority is the Convention of the Clergy, as it is 
called, constituted " a corporate Body " ? I am never 
theless, with all due Respect to the Ministers of the 
Congregational Churches, 



P. S. Perhaps an Address of Thanks from the 
Convention of the Reverend & very venerable Dr. 
Chauncy, for his excellent Defence of their ecclesiastic 
Constitution, at a Time when they stood in need of so 
able a Defender, may be judg d by some to be rather 
more in Character than a political Address to the 
Man in Power. 


Postscript the 2d. I am inform d that it was first 
propos d to address his Excellency at Cambridge, 
after Dinner on the Day of Election, and that the 
Reason assign d for it was, because it had been un 
justly asserted that his - - had stood Sponsor at a 
Christening The Truth of which Assertion, however, 
it is also said, might have been made evident by 
enquiring of a worthy Clergyman of the Church of 
England in that Town, 


i 7 7 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 189 

[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 173-177.] 

BOSTON, July 3ist, 1771. 


Since I received your favour of the 28th of March, 
I have observed by the London papers that the lord- 
mayor and alderman are liberated. From the wisdom 
and firmness which formerly distinguished that opu 
lent and independent city, we expected that when 
they had so fair an occasion for exerting themselves, 
the power which has too long oppressed and insulted 
the nation and the colonies, would have been made to 
bend. But we have seen complimentary letters and 
addresses to the imprisoned gentlemen, and their an 
swers ; while by a stretch of arbitrary power they have 
been kept in confinement, till by a prorogation instead 
of a dissolution, they have been discharged of course. 
Is this my friend a matter of such triumph ? Does it 
not show that Britons are unfeeling to their condi 
tion ? Or has brutal force at length become so formi 
dable, that after having in vain petitioned those whose 
duty it is to redress their grievances, they are afraid to 
imitate the virtue of their ancestors in similar cases, 
and redress their grievances themselves ? 

Mr. Hume, if I mistake not, somewhere says, that 
if James the Second had had the benefit of the riot- 
act, and such a standing army as has been granted 
since his time, it would have been impracticable for 
the nation to have wrought its own delivery, and 
establish the constitution of 88. If the people have 
put it in the power of a wicked and corrupt ministry 

190 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

to make themselves absolute lords and tyrants over 
them by means of a standing army, we may at present 
pity them under the misfortune ; but future historians 
will record the story with astonishment and indigna 
tion, and posterity, who will share in the fatal effects 
of their folly and treachery, will accuse them. Has 
there not for a long time past been reason to appre 
hend the designs of a restless faction to oppress the 
nation ; and the more easily to affect their purposes, 
to render the king s government obnoxious, and if 
possible put an end to a family which has heretofore 
supported the rights of the nation, its happiness and 
grandeur ? 

In this colony we are every day experiencing the 
miserable effects of arbitrary power. The people are 
paying the unrighteous tribute, (I wish I could say 
they were groaning under it, for that would seem as 
if they felt they are submitting to it,) in hopes that 
the nation will at length revert to justice. But befpre 
that time comes, it is to be feared they will be so 
accustomed to bondage, as to forget they were ever 
free. Swarms of locusts and caterpillars are main 
tained by this tribute in luxury and splendour, and a 
standing army, (not in the city thank God, since the 
5th March 1770, but within call upon occasion). 
While our independent governor is found to crouch to 
his superiors, and to look down upon and sneer at those 
below him, he is from time to time receiving instruc 
tions how to govern this people, to govern ! rather 
to harass and insult his country in distress. . . . 
where his adulating priestlings are reminding him he 
was born and educated, forgetting perhaps if they ever 

177 O SAMUEL ADAMS. 191 

knew, that the tyrants of Rome were the natives of 
Rome. Among other edicts which have been lately 
sent to this governor, there is one which prohibits his 
assenting to any tax-bill, unless the commissioners 
and other officers, whose salaries are not paid out of 
moneys granted by this government, are exempted 
from a tax on the profits of their commissions. 
Nothing that I can say will heighten the resentment 
of a man of sense and virtue against such a mandate ; 
and yet our governor would have us think it is a mark 
of his paternal goodness. Another instruction forbids 
the governor to give his assent to grants to any agent, 
unless he is appointed by a law of the province, or a 
resolve of the assembly, to which his excellency con 
sents. And a third requires him to refuse his assent 
to a future election of such councillors as shall pre 
sume to meet together as a council, without being 
summoned by him into his presence. These instruc 
tions, so humiliating to the council, the secretary by 
the governor s order has entered on their journals. 

It has been observed that the nearer any man ap 
proaches to an absolute independence, the more he 
will be flattered ; and flattery is always great in pro 
portion as the motives of flatterers are bad. These 
observations are so disgraceful to human nature that 
T wish I could say they were not founded in experi 
ence. Perhaps there never was a man in this province 
more flattered, or who bore it better, I mean who was 
better pleased with it, than Governor Hutchinson. 
You have seen Miss in her teens, surrounded with dy 
ing lovers, praising her gay ribbons, the dimples in 
her cheeks or the tip of her ear ! In imitation of the 

192 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

mother country, whom we are too apt to imitate in 
fopperies, addresses have been procured and presented 
to his excellency, chiefly from dependants and expec 
tants. Indeed some of the clergy have run into the 
stream of civility, which is the more astonishing, when 
it is considered that they altogether depend upon the 
ability and good disposition of their parishes for their 
support. But it is certain that not a fifth part, some 
say not an eighth part of the clergy, were present. 
It cannot, therefore, be said to be the language of the 
body of the clergy, and all ages have seen that some 
of that order have ever been ready to sacrifice the 
rights as well as the honoured religion of their coun 
try, to the smiles of the great. It is a sore mortifica 
tion that the independent house of representatives, 
and the town of Boston have refused to make their 
compliments to a man, whose administration since 
the departure of the Nettleham Baronet, they can by 
no means approve of. From hence you will judge 
whether these addresses speak the sentiments of the 
people in general, or are any more than the foul 
breath of sycophants and hirelings. 

The province of North Carolina, by accounts from 
thence, appears to have been involved in a civil war. 
It is the general opinion here that the people in the 
back parts of that province have been greatly op 
pressed, and that the governor, instead of hearkening 
to their complaints and redressing their grievances, 
has raised an army and spilt their blood. This it 
must be confessed, is treating the people under his 
government much in the same manner as his superiors 
have treated the nation and the colonies. But their 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 193 

example may prove dangerous to be followed by a 
plantation governor. At this distance from Carolina 
we have not yet received a perfect account from 
thence. I hope your friends in the adjacent colony 
of Virginia have wrote you particularly of this impor 
tant matter. Tryon has arrived at New York, where 
he is appointed governor. He has already been ad 
dressed with all the expressions of court sincerity, and 
perhaps he may hereafter receive the reward of a 
baronet for his fidelity and courage. * When vice 
prevails and impious men bear sway, the post of 
honour is the private station. 


[Boston Gazette, August 5, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

ONE who stiles himself, in Mr. Draper s paper, a Lay 
man, having repeatedly endeavoured in vain to make 
the Public believe, that the paper presented to gov 
ernor Hutchinson, by about a fifth part, according to 
his own account, and as others say, not more than 
an eighth part of the congregational ministers of this 
province, ought still to be called " an address of the 
congregational ministers of this province " ; and that 
its being thus represented in the newspapers, did not 
betray any want of that simplicity and godly sin 
cerity, which we have so often heard inculcated from 
the pulpit ; and what is still more extraordinary in a 
vindication of reverend addressers, having sneer d at 
me for expressing my regard for these and other emi- 

VOL. II. 13. 

i 9 4 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

nent Christian graces, which however, I have reason 
to hope are the peculiar ornaments of the generality 
of the ministers of that denomination ; I say, after all 
this, he proceeds to tell us, that there never has been 
an instance of a majority of the clergy present at any 
convention ; and that the individuals who compose 
that reverend corporate body, as he would fain have us 
think it to be, have never before been notified of such 
political or other matters as a few of them may have 
taken it into their heads to transact at any future 
time or place Are we to infer from thence by any 
means, that it was fair to call this the address of the 
body of the congregational ministers of the province ? 
For so it was manifestly intended to be understood, 
and so it is plain his Excellency himself chose to 
understand it, as appears by his calling it in his 
answer, " so kind, so affectionate an address, from so 
respectable and venerable a body of men " Aye, but 
says the Layman, it has been customary for a mi 
nority of the congregational ministers of the province, 
to meet in convention, and address the new govern 
ors, without notifying the majority of them, (who 
have always been absent) of the matter. If this be 
true, it argues that such former addresses can no 
more than the last, be fairly called addresses of the 
body of the clergy, or be so represented or received 
This Layman, as he calls himself, mentions the con 
vention in one of his performances, as acting like 
" other corporate bodies," at the meetings of which 
the presence of a majority of the members may not 
be necessary to warrant their proceedings ; but he 
does not incline to answer my question, viz. When 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 195 

and by whom they were incorporated ? But if they 
had been a corporate body, the members should have 
been duly warned of the matters to be transacted, as 
well as the time and place ; otherwise, who does not 
know that their proceedings must be invalid ? To be 
sure if, without such notification, not a sixth part of 
them should be present, which is the fact, no one in 
his senses would plead that they could with fairness 
be called the proceedings of that corporate body 
However, thus it has been represented by the Lay 
man : The reverend addressers themselves, call their 
address, " An address of the ministers of the congre 
gational churches in the province," and his Excellency 
receives it very kindly, as coming from so " respect 
able and venerable a body " -Whatever some of those 
reverend gentlemen, (I care not how small a number 
is supposed, for I would be tender of the character of 
the cloth,) I say, whether some of them might not 
think, that if the address was supposed to be the de 
clared sentiment of the whole body of the clergy of 
the province, it would be further supposed, to speak 
the sentiments of the whole body of the people of 
the province, and whether they were not under this 
temptation to give their address so pompous an in 
troduction, I will not presume to say ; I shall only 
in my usual way, and with my usual modesty, as the 
Layman witnesses, ask whether there is not reason 
to think it. If this was actually the case, I will just 
remark, that though the body of the people of this 
province, treat the clergy, as I hope they always will, 
with all due respect, yet they are not priest-ridden as 
in some other parts of the world, and I hope in God 

196 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

they never will be They claim a right of private 
judgment ; and they will always venture to express 
their own sentiments of men or things, of politicks 
or religion, against the sentiments of the clergy, 
whenever they think the clergy in the wrong. 

This indefatigable Layman threatens to " chastise " 
me for falshood, in saying I had heard, or "it is 
said " that this is the first instance of an address ever 
made to a governor by the convention ; but strictly 
speaking it was truly said, according to his own ac 
count ; for if a majority of the members which com 
pose the convention, have never met, nor any of the 
members ever been notified of time, place or matters 
to be transacted, how can any act be said to have 
been the act of the convention ? But this is not what 
I intended - I was told, or to use my own words, 
it was said in my hearing, that this was the first ad 
dress to a governor ever made by the convention : I 
understood it to be the first address ever made to a 
governor by any number of ministers calling them 
selves the ministers of the congregational churches of 
this province met in convention : The Layman has 
convinced me that I was misinformed : Does it fol 
low that I am chargeable with falshood ? a gross 
violation of truth ? Fie, fie, Layman ! As your 
client s cause requires the utmost candor, learn to ex 
ercise a little of it towards others ; it is a shame for 
you to rail in behalf of the clergy An instance is 
bro t of an address to Governor Pownal, and another 
to Bernard ! But in neither of these instances, as 
the Layman tells us, were the members of the con 
vention notified, or the majority of them present. 


Perhaps only SEVENTEEN met, and an hour before the 
usual time, as was said by one of the convention to be 
the case, when the late address was first carried. The 
Layman indeed insists upon twenty-four ; it is imma 
terial as I said before, since either of these numbers 
is inconsiderable, in comparison with 300, some say 
400 ministers of that denomination in the province. 
If the Layman thinks it material, I am sorry the Rev. 
Dr. who presided at the meeting, though repeatedly 
requested, will not condescend to ascertain it for him 
With regard to addresses to governors upon their 
promotion, so far as it can be presumed that they are 
well qualified and well dispos d to employ their shin 
ing talents, (for such they all have, if we are to be 
lieve the late addresses here and elsewhere,) and to 
make themselves " diffusive blessings in their exalted 
stations," those of the clergy and others, who are so 
very fond of congratulating, let them congratulate, if 
they please. I believe many of the clergymen who 
congratulated the Nettleham baronet, and others be 
sides, have since been fully convinced that they have 
no reason to pride themselves in it. The truth is, 
every man in power will be adulated by some sort of 
men in every country, because he is a man in power 
TRYON arrives from the bloody scenes of Ala- 
mance, and receives the high encomiums of New 
York, the clergy as well as others, for having " saved 
a sister colony " by his noble exploit ; and another is 
flattered as being the " father of his country," and 
" the delight of an obliged and grateful people," by 
those very men who now detest the administration 
of BERNARD whom they had before cannonized, altho 

1 98 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

he has assured his noble patron, and many believe it, 
that this Father of his country is just such an one as 
himself ; that he is pushing forward with the utmost 
vehemence, tho in different modes, the same meas 
ures, and that he may be depended upon by his Lord 
ship equally with himself. I am with great respect to 
the congregational ministers, 



[Boston Gazette, August 19, 1771.] 

Messieurs Edes & Gill. 

IT has become of late so fashionable for some per 
sons to make their addresses to every one whom they 
call a great man, that one can hardly look upon them 
as the genuine marks of respect to any one who is 
really a good man. Their addresses seem to spring 
altogether from political views ; and without the least 
regard to the character or merit of the persons whom 
they profess to compliment in them. From the ob 
servations I have been able to make, I have been led 
to think that one of their designs in addressing, is to 

give occasion to my Lord of H and other great 

men to think, or at least to say it, whether they think 
so or not, that the scales have at length fallen from 
the eyes of the people of this town and province ; and 
that in consequence thereof, they have altered their 
sentiments, & are become perfectly reconciled to the 
whole system of ministerial measures ; for otherwise, 
they might argue, could they possibly be so liberal in 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 199 

their addresses and compliments to those persons who 
are employed, and no question, are very active in 
carrying those measures into execution. But I should 
think that if a question of this consequence, namely, 
Whether the people have altered their sentiments in 
so interesting a point, is to be decided by their ap 
parent disposition to compliment this or that particu 
lar gentleman, because he is employed in the service 
of administration in America, it would be the fairest 
method to call a meeting of the inhabitants of the 
Town, duly notifying them of the occasion of the 
meeting, and let the matter be fully debated if need 
be, and determined by a vote. Every one would then 
see, if the vote was carried in favour of addressing, or 
which upon my supposition is the same thing, in fa 
vour of the measures of administration, whether it 
obtain d by a large or small majority of the whole ; 
and we might come to the knowledge of the very 
persons, which is much to be desired, as well as 
the weight of understanding and property on each 

For my own part, I cannot but at present be of 
opinion, and " I have reason to believe " that my 
opinion is well founded, that the measures of the 
British administration of the colonies, are still as dis 
gustful and odious to the inhabitants of this respect 
able metropolis in general, as they ever have been : 
And I will venture further to add, that nothing, in 
my opinion, can convey a more unjust idea of the 
spirit of a true American, than to suppose he would 
even compliment, much less make an adulating ad 
dress to any person sent here to trample on the 

200 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

Rights of his Country ; or that he would ever con 
descend to kiss the hand which is ready prepared to 
rivet his own fetters There are among us, it must 
be confess d, needy expectants and dependents ; and 
a few others of sordid and base minds, form d by na 
ture to bend and crouch even to little great men : 
But whoever thinks, that by the most refined art and 
assiduous application of the most ingenious political 
oculist, the " public eye " can yet look upon the chains 
which are forg d for them, or upon those detestable 
men who are employ d to put them on, without ab 
horrence and indignation, are very much mistaken 
I only wish that my Countrymen may be upon their 
guard against being led by the artifices of the tools of 
Administration, into any indiscreet measures, from 
whence they may take occasion to give such a color 
ing. " There have been, says the celebrated American 
Farmer, in every age and in every country bad men : 
Men who either hold or expect to hold certain advan 
tages by fitting examples of SERVILITY to their coun 
trymen : Who train d to the employment, or 
self-taught by a natural versatility of genius, serve as 
decoys for drawing the innocent and unwary into 
snares. It is not to be doubted but that such men 
will diligently bestir themselves on this and every like 
occasion, to spread the infection of their meanness as 
far as they can. On the plans they have adopted this 
is their course. This is the method to recommend 
themselves to their patrons. They act consistently 
in a bad cause. They run well in a mean race. From 
them we shall learn, how pleasant and profitable a 
thing it is, to be, for our submissive behavior, well 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 201 

spoken of at St. James s or St. Stephen s, at Guildhall 
or the Royal Exchange." 

We cannot surely have forgot the accursed designs 
of a most detestable set of men, to destroy the Liber 
ties of America as with one blow, by the Stamp- Act ; 
nor the noble and successful efforts we then made to 
divert the impending stroke of ruin aimed at ourselves 
and our posterity. The Sons of Liberty on the I4th 
of August 1765, a Day which ought to be for ever 
remembered in America, animated with a zeal for 
their country then upon the brink of destruction, and 
resolved, at once to save her, or like Samson, to perish 
in the ruins, exerted themselves with such distin 
guished vigor, as made the house of Dogon to shake 
from its very foundation ; and the hopes of the lords 
of the Philistines even while their hearts were merry, 
and when they were anticipating the joy of plunder 
ing this continent, were at that very time buried in 
the pit they had digged. The People shouted ; and 
their shout was heard to the distant end of this Con 
tinent. In each Colony they deliberated and resolved, 
and every Stampman trembled ; and swore by his 
Maker, that he would never execute a commission 
which he had so infamously received. 

We cannot have forgot, that at the very Time when 
the stamp-act was repealed, another was made in 
which the Parliament of Great-Britain declared, that 
they had right and authority to make any laws what 
ever binding on his Majesty s subjects in America 
How far this declaration can be consistent with the 
freedom of his Majesty s subjects in America, let any 
one judge who pleases In consequence of such right 

202 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

and authority claim d, the commons of Great Britain 
very soon fram d a bill and sent it up to the Lords, 
wherein they pray d his Majesty to accept of their 
grant of such a part as they were then pleas d, by vir 
tue of the right and authority inherent in them to 
make, of the property of his Majesty s subjects in 
America by a duty upon paper, glass, painter s colours 
and tea. And. altho these duties are in part repeal d, 
there remains enough to answer thej^uxpose of ad 
ministration, which was to fix the (precedent^ We 
remember the policy of Mr. Grenville, who would 
have been content for the present with a pepper corn 
establish d as a revenue in America : If therefore we 
are voluntarily silent while the single duty on tea is 
continued, or do any act, however innocent, simply 
considered, which may be construed by the tools of 
administration, (some of whom appear to be fruitful 
in invention) as an acquiescence in the measure, we are 
in extreme hazard ; if ever we are so distracted as to 
consent to it, we are undone. 

Nor can we ever forget the indignity and abuse 
with which America in general, and this province and 
town in particular, have been treated, by the servants 
& officers of the crown, for making a manly resistance 
to the arbitrary measures of administration, in the 
representations that have been made to the men in 
power at home, who have always been dispos d to be 
lieve every word as infallible truth. For opposing a 
threatned Tyranny, we have been not only called, but 
in effect adjudged Rebels & Traitors to the best of 
Kings, who has sworn to maintain and defend the 
Rights and Liberties of his Subjects We have been 

i7?i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 203 

represented as inimical to our fellow subjects in Britain, 
because we have boldly asserted those Rights and 
Liberties, wherewith they, as Subjects, are made free. 

When we complain d of this injurious treatment ; 

when we petition d, and remonstrated our grievances : 
What was the Consequence ? Still further indignity ; 
and finally a formal invasion of this town by a fleet 
and army in the memorable year 1 768. 

Our masters, military and civil, have since that 
period been frequently chang d ; and possibly some 
of them, from principles merely political, may of late 
have look d down upon us with less sternness in their 
countenances than a BERNARD or a . . . : But 
while there has been no essential alteration of meas 
ures, no real redress of grievances, we have no reason 
to think, nay we deceive ourselves if we indulge a 
thought that their hearts are changed. We cannot 
entertain such an imagination, while the revenue, or 
as it is more justly stiled, the TRIBUTE is extorted 
from us : while our principal fortress, within the en 
virons of the town, remains garrison d by regular 
troops, and the harbour is invested by ships of war. 
The most zealous advocates for the measures of ad 
ministration, will not pretend to say, that these troops 
and these ships are sent here to protect America, or 
to carry into execution any one plan, form d for the 
honor or advantage of Great-Britain. It would be 
some alleviation, if we could be convinced that they 
were sent here with any other design than to insult us. 

How absurd then must the addresses which have 
been presented to some particular gentlemen, who 
have made us such friendly visits, appear in the eyes 

204 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

of men of sense abroad ! Or, if any of them have 
been so far impos d upon, as to be induc d to believe 
that such addresses speak the language of the general 
ity of the people, how ridiculous must the generality 
of the people appear ! On the last supposition, 
would not a sensible reader of those addresses, upon 
comparing them with the noble resolutions which this 
town, this province and this continent have made 
against SLAVERY, and the just and warm resentment 
they have constantly shown against EVERY man what 
ever, who had a mind sordid and base enough, for the 
sake of lucre, or the preservation of a commission, or 
from any other consideration, to submit to be made 
even a remote instrument in bringing and entailing it 
upon a free and a brave people ; upon such a com 
parison, would he not be ready to conclude, " that we 
had forgot the reasons which urged us, with unex- 
ample/1 unanimity a few years ago that our zeal for 
the public good had worn out, before the homespun 
cloaths which it had caused us to have made and, 
that by our present conduct we condemned our own 
late successful example ! " Although this is alto 
gether supposition, without any foundation in truth, 
yet, so our enemies wish it may be in reality, and so 
they intend it shall be To prevent it, let us ADHERE 


[Boston Gazette , September 9, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

PERHAPS there never was a people who discovered 
themselves more strongly attached to their natural 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 205 

and constitutional rights and liberties, than the British 
Colonists on this American Continent Their united 
and successful struggles against that slavery with 
which they were threatened by the stamp-act, will 
undoubtedly be recorded by future historians to their 
immortal honor The assembly of Virginia, which in 
deed is the most ancient colony, claimed their pre 
eminence at that important crisis, by first asserting 
their rights which were invaded by the act, and by their 
spirited resolution to ward off the impending stroke : 
And they were seconded by all the other colonies, 
with such unanimity and invincible fortitude, that those 
who, to their eternal disgrace and infamy, had ac 
cepted of commissions to oppress them, were made 
to shudder at the thought of rendering themselves 
still more odious to all posterity, by executing their 
commissions, and publickly to abjure their detestable 
design of raising their fortunes upon the ruin of their 
country. Under the influence of the wisest admin 
istration which has ever appeared since the present 
reign began : The hateful act was at length repeal d ; 
to the joy of every friend to the rights of mankind in 
Britain, and of all America, except the few who either 
from the prospect of gain by it, or from an inveterate 
envy which they had before and have ever since dis 
covered, of the general happiness of the people of 
America, were the promoters if not the original 
framers of it. This restless faction could not bear to 
see the Americans restored to the possession of their 
rights and liberties, and sitting once more in security 
under their own vines and their own fig trees : Un 
wearied in their endeavours to introduce an absolute 

2o6 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

tyranny into this country, to which they were insti 
gated, some from the principles of ambition or a lust 
of power, and others from an inordinate love of 
money which is the root of all evil, and which had 
before possessed the hearts of those who had under 
taken to distribute the stamped papers, they met to 
gether in cabal and laid a new plan to render the 
people of this continent tributary to the mother coun 
try Having finished their part of the plan, their in 
defatigable Randolph was dispatched to Great-Britain 
to communicate it to the fraternity there, in order 
that it might be ripen d and bro t to perfection : But 
even before his embarkation, he could not help dis 
covering his own weakness, by giving a broad hint of 
the design This parricide pretended that his inten 
tion in making a voyage to England at that time, 
was to settle a private affair of his own ; that he had 
nothing else in view ; and that having settled that 
private affair, he should immediately return, and as he 
expressed it, lay his bones in his native country. Full 
of the appearance of love for his country, he express d 
the greatest solicitude to do the best service he 
could for it, while in England ; but unluckily drop d a 
question, strange and inconsistent as it may appear 
to the reader, " What do you think, sir, of a small 
Duty upon divers articles of importation from Great- 
Britain?" No sooner had he arriv d in London, 
than the news was dispatch d from the friends of 
America there, of a design to lay a duty upon paper, 
glass, painter s colours, and tea imported into 
America, with the sole purpose of raising a revenue 
The lucrative commission which he obtain d while 

i 7 7 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 207 

in England, in consequence of the passing of the act 
of parliament, whereby he was appointed one of the 
principal managers of this very revenue, affords but 
little room to doubt what his intention was in his voy 
age to London, notwithstanding his warm professions 
of concern for his native country It is not always a 
security against a man s sacrificing a country, that 
he was born and educated in it. The Tyrants of 
Rome were Natives of Rome. Such men indeed in 
cur a guilt of a much deeper dye, than Strangers, 
who commit no such violation of duty and of feeling. 
There was another of the cabal who em- 
bark d about the same time, but he was call d out of 
this life before he reach d London, and de mortuis nil 
dico Of the living I shall speak, as occasion shall 
call for it, with a becoming freedom. 

The whole continent was justly alarmed at the 
parliament s resuming the measure of raising a reve 
nue in America without their consent, which had so 
nearly operated the ruin of the whole British empire 
but a few months before ; & that this odious measure 
should be taken, so soon after the happy coalition be 
tween Britain and the colonies which the repeal of 
the stamp-act had occasioned ; for if one may judge 
by the most likely appearances, the affections of her 
colonists, were upon this great event, more strongly 
attached to the mother country if possible, than ever 
they had been. But the great men there had been 
made to believe otherwise Nay the governor of this 
province had gone such a length as to assure them, 
that the design of the Americans in their opposition 
to the stamp-act, was to bring the authority of parlia- 

208 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

ment into contempt Many of his adherents privately 
wrote to the same purpose All which had a ten 
dency to break that harmony, which after the only in 
terruption that had ever taken place and that of short 
continuance, had been renewed, and doubtless would 
have been confirmed to mutual advantage for ages, had 
it not been for that pestilent few, who first to aggran 
dize themselves and their families, interrupted the har 
mony, and then to preserve their own importance, took 
every step their malice could invent, with the advan 
tage they had gain d of a confidence with the ministry, 
to prevent it s ever being restored. 

Upon the fatal news (fatal, I call it, for I very much 
fear it will prove so in its consequences, how remote 
I will not take upon me to predict) upon the news of 
the passing of another revenue act, the colonies im 
mediately took such measures as were dictated to them, 
not by passion and rude clamour, but by the voice 
of reason and a just regard to the safety of themselves 
and their posterity. The assembly of this province, 
being the first I suppose who had the opportunity of 
meeting, prepared and forwarded a humble, dutiful & 
loyal petition to the King ; * and wrote letters to such 
of the British nobility 2 and gentry as had before dis 
covered themselves friends to the rights of America & 
of mankind, beseeching their interposition and influ 
ence on their behalf. At the same time they wrote a 
circular letter to each of the other colonies, 3 letting 
them know the steps they had taken and desiring their 

1 Vol. I., page 162. 

2 Vol. I., pages 152, 166, 169, 173, 180. 
8 Vol. I., page 184. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 209 

advice & joint assistance This letter had its different 
effects ; on the one hand, in the deep resentment of 
my Lord of Hillsborough, who was pleased to call it 
" a measure of an inflamatory nature Evidently ten 
ding to create unwarrantable combinations, to excite 
an unjustifiable opposition to the constitutional au 
thority of parliament and to revive unhappy divisions 
and distractions," &c. While on the other hand, the 
colonies, as appears by their respective polite answers, 
receiv d it with the highest marks of approbation, as 
a token of sincere affection to them, & a regard to the 
common safety ; and they severally proceeded to take 
concurrent measures. No one step I believe, united 
the colonies more than this letter ; excepting his lord 
ship s endeavors by his own circular letter to the 
colonies, to give it a different turn But however de 
cent and loyal However warrantable by or rather 
conformable to the spirit and the written rules of the 
British constitution, the petitions of right and other 
applications of the distressed Americans were, they 
shared the same fate which those of London, West 
minster, Middlesex, & other great cities & counties 
have since met with ! No redress of grievances en 
sued : Not even the least disposition in administration 
to listen to our petitions ; which is not so much to be 
wondered at, when we consider the temper of the 
ministry, which was incessantly acted upon by Gover 
nor Bernard in such kind of language as this " The 
authority of the King, the supremacy of parliament, 
the superiority of government are the real objects 
of the attack "; while nothing is more certain, than that 
the house of representatives of this province in their 

VOL. II. 14. 

210 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

petition to the king, and in all their letters, that in par 
ticular which was address d to the other colonies, the 
sentiment of which was recognized by them, expressly 
declare, " that his Majesty s high court of parliament 
is the supreme legislative power over the whole em 
pire, in all cases which can consist with the funda 
mental rights of the constitution," and that " it was 
never questioned in this province, nor as they con 
ceive in any other." They indeed in all their letters 
insist upon the right of granting their own money, as 
a right founded in nature, the exercise of which no 
man ever relinquished to another & remain d free A 
right therefore which no power on earth, not even the 
acknowledged supreme legislative power over the 
whole empire hath any authority to divest them of 
/ " The supreme power says Mr. Locke, is not, nor can 
possibly be absolutely arbitrary, over the lives and for 
tunes of the people The supreme power cannot take 
from any man any part of his property without his 
own consent. For the preservation of property being 
the end of government, and that for which men enter 
into society ; it necessarily supposes and requires that 
the people should have property, without which they 
must be supposed to lose that by entering into so 
ciety, which was the end for which they entered into 
it. Men therefore in society having property, they 
have such a right to the goods which by the law of the 
community are theirs, that no body hath a right to 
take their substance or any part of it from them with 
out their consent. Without this, they have no prop 
erty at all : For I have truly no property in that, 
which another can by right take from me when he 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 211 

pleases, against my consent " These are the prin 
ciples upon which alone, the Americans founded their 
opposition to the late acts of parliament. /How then 
could governor Bernard with any colour of truth de 
clare to a minister of state in general terms, that " the 
authority of the King, the supremacy of parliament, 
the superiority of government, were the objects of the 
attack ? " Upon the principles of reason and nature, 
their opposition is justifiable : For by those acts the 
property of the Colonists is taken from them without 
their consent. It is by no means sufficient to console 
us, that the duty is reduced to the single article of 
Tea, which by the way is not a fact ; but if it should 
be admitted, it is because the parliament for the 
present are pleased to demand no more of us : Should 
we acquiesce in their taking three pence only because 
they please, we at least tacitly consent that they 
should have the sovereign controul of our purses ; and 
when they please they will claim an equal right, and 
perhaps plead a precedent for it, to take a shilling or 
a pound At present we have the remedy in our own 
hands ; we can easily avoid paying the TRIBUTE, by 
abstaining from the use of those articles by which it is 
extorted from us : and further, we can look upon our 
haughty imperious taskmasters, and all those who are 
sent here to aid and abet them, together with those 
sons of servility, who from very false notions of polite 
ness, can seek and court opportunities of cringing and 
fawning at their feet, of whom, thro favor, there are 
but few among us : we may look down upon all these, 
with that sovereign contempt and indignation, with 
which those who feel their own dignity and freedom, 

2i2 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

will for ever view the men, who would attempt to re 
duce them to the disgraceful state of SLAVERY. 

I shall continue to send you an account of facts, as 
my leisure will admit. In the mean time, 

I am yours, 



[Boston Gazette, September 16, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

I have already mentioned the circular letter written 
by the house of representatives of this province to the 
other colonies, dated the nth of February, 1768; and 
the very different treatment it met with from the Earl 
of Hillsborough and the respectable bodies to whom 
it was addressed. And also the circular letter which 
his lordship himself was pleased to send to those col 
onies, wherein he recommended to them " to treat it 
with the contempt it deserved "- But as the sentiments 
contained in the letter of the house were so exactly 
similar to those of the other colonies, and the subject 
of it was of equal importance to them all, it was not 
in the power of his lordship to efface the impressions 
it made, or to disturb that harmony which was the 
happy effect of it Vis unita fortior That union of 
the colonies in their common danger, by which they 
became powerful, was the occasion of the greatest 
perplexity to their enemies on both sides the atlantick ; 
and it has been ever since their constant endeavor by 
all manner of arts to destroy it. In this, it must be 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 213 

confess d, they have discovered an unanimity, zeal and \ 
perseverance, worthy to be imitated by those who are 
embark d in the cause of American freedom. It is by 
united councils, a steady zeal, and a manly fortitude, 
that this continent must expect to recover its violated 
rights and liberties. 

Such was the resentment which the circular letter 
enkindled in the breasts of administration, that it was 
immediately followed by a Mandate from lord Hills- 
borough to governor Bernard, to require the succeed 
ing house to rescind the resolution which had given 
birth to it, upon pain of a dissolution of the assembly 
in case of a refusal. Governor Bernard added to the 
severity of this mandate by assuring the house in a 
message to them, that " if he should be obliged to dis 
solve the general court, he should not think himself 
at liberty to call another, till he should receive his 
Majesty s command for that purpose." It appeared 
that administration had been greatly misinformed 
with regard to the circumstances of this resolution of 
the house, particularly in a representation that it was 
brought on when the members present were few, and 
at the end of the session ; and that it was therefore a 
very unfair proceeding procured by surprize and con 
trary to the real sense of the house But the house 
made it evident in their letter to his lordship after 
wards, from their own minutes and journals, that it 
was the declared sense of a large majority when the 
house was full It was the constant practice of gov 
ernor Bernard and his adherents, to represent the op 
position of the house to the pernicious designs of the 
enemies of the colonies, which generally consisted of 

2i 4 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

full three quarters of the members and sometimes 
more, as the feeble efforts of an expiring faction. 

This direct and peremptory requisition, of a new 
and strange constructure, and so strenuously urg d by 
the governor, was taken into consideration by the 
house, on the next day after it was laid before them ; 
and as is usual in all matters of importance, was then 
referred to a large committee further to consider it, 
and report their opinion of what was expedient to be 
done : As the governor had assured the house in his 
message, that " their resolution thereon would have 
the most important consequences to the province," the 
committee were the more deliberate in their consulta 
tions ; very reasonably expecting, that after such an 
assurance given to the house, the governor would in 
dulge them with sufficient time thoroughly to digest 
it. However sanguine the expectation of lord Hills- 
borough might be, through the artful insinuation of 
governor Bernard that, the " attempts of a desperate 
faction (as his lordship expressed it) would be dis 
countenanced, and that the execution of the measure 
recommended would not meet with any difficulty ; " 
the governor himself, who was fully acquainted with 
the sentiments of the house, as well as of the general 
ity of the people without doors, had no "grounds to 
hope " that the requisition would be comply d with ; 
and therefore as a dissolution was to be the immediate 
consequence of a refusal, and as his lordship had 
directed the governor to " transmit to him an account 
of their proceedings to be laid before his Majesty, to 
the end that his Majesty might, if he tho t proper, lay 
the whole matter before his parliament," it might have 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 215 

been well supposed that a longer time was necessary 
for them to state the reasons of their own conduct, 
and to set the transactions of the former house, which 
had been grossly misrepresented, in a true point of 
light, in order to vindicate themselves, when their 
whole proceedings should be laid before his Majesty 
and the parliament. 

But before the committee were ready to make their 
report, the governor sent down a message to the 
house, signifying that it was full a week since he had 
laid his Majesty s requisition before them, and that 
he could not admit of a much longer delay, without 
considering it as an answer in the negative Upon 
which the house, being desirous that the sense of the 
people concerning this important matter might be 
known as explicitly as possible, which would also have 
determined beyond all doubt, their sense of the reve 
nue acts, and the opposition made to them by the 
American assemblies, requested a recess of the general 
court, that they might have the opportunity of taking 
the instructions of their constituents. But though 
his lordship in his letter to the governor, express d a 
satisfaction in "that spirit of decency and love of 
order which has discovered itself in the conduct of the 
most considerable of the inhabitants of the province ; " 
and the governor himself in his speech at the close of 
the preceeding assembly, insinuated that matters had 
been conducted by a party in the house ; and declared 
that " the evils which threatened this injured coun 
try, arose from the machinations of a few, very few 
discontented men "- false patriots who were sacri 
ficing their country to the gratification of their own 

216 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

passions," and that it was " by no means to be charged 
upon the generality of the people" yet he did not 
think it proper to comply with the request of the 
house for a recess, that the sentiment of the general 
ity of " this good people" as he calls them in this same 
speech, might be taken. Had he not the fairest op 
portunity upon this motion of the house, if there had 
been any grounds for his representations that the 
opposition to the revenue acts was confined to a few, 
very few discontented men, to have made it evident 
beyond all contradiction ? But he dared not rest the 
matter upon this issue : He knew very well that it 
would put an end to his darling topic ; and that the 
determination of the generality of the people, would 
put it out of his power any longer to hold up an ex 
piring faction to administration with success A low 
piece of cunning, of which he was a perfect master, 
and which he had constantly practiced to induce them 
to a perseverance in their measures. 

On the 3<Dth June 1768, the committee, having 
maturely considered the requisition made to the 
house in its nature and consequences reported a 
letter to the Earl of Hillsborough 1 his Majesty s 
secretary of state for the American department, 
and laid it on the table ; wherein they observe 
to his lordship, that a requisition of such a nature, 
to a British house of commons had been very un 
usual and perhaps altogether unprecedented since 
the revolution : That some very aggravated repre 
sentations must have been made to his Majesty of 
the resolution of the former house, to induce him 

1 Vol. I., page 219. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 217 

to require this house to rescind it, upon pain of for 
feiting their existence That the people in this prov 
ince had attended with anxiety to the acts of the 
British parliament for raising a revenue in America 
-That this concern was not limited within the circle 
of a few inconsiderate persons ; the most respectable 
for fortune, rank and station, as well as probity 
and understanding in the province, with very few 
exceptions, being alarm d with apprehensions of the 
fatal consequences, of a power exercised in any part 
of the British empire, to command and apply the 
property of their fellow subjects at discretion : That 
as all his Majesty s North-American subjects were 
alike affected by those revenue acts, the former house 
very justly supposed that each of the assemblies on 
the continent would take such methods of obtaining 
redress as should be thought by them respectively 
to be regular and proper ; and being desirous that 
the several applications should harmonize with each 
other, they resolved on their circular letter ; wherein 
they ojily--aiiq r uainted._th.eir. sister colonies with the 
measures they had taken, without calling upon them 
to-adopt those measures or any other That this was 
perfectly consistent with the constitution ; and that, 
so far from being criminal, or a measure " of an in 
flammatory nature," it had a natural tendency to com 
pose his majesty s subjects in the colonies, till they 
should obtain relief ; at a time when it seem d to be 
the evident design of a party, they might have said a 
faction, to prevent calm, deliberate, rational and con 
stitutional measures being pursued, or to stop the 
distresses of the people from reaching his Majesty s 

218 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

ear, and consequently to precipitate them into a state 
of desperation. They therefore leave it to his lord 
ship s impartial judgment, whether the representations 
that had been made of this resolution, were not in 
jurious to the house, and an affront to his Majesty 
himself. And after proceeding to give his lordship a 
full detail of all the circumstances relating to the reso 
lution which gave birth to the circular letter, and 
which they were required to rescind, they add, that 
they rely upon it that to petition his Majesty will not 
be deemed by him to be inconsistent with the British 
constitution ; that to acquaint their fellow subjects, 
involved in the same distress, even if they had invited 
the union of all America in one joint supplication, 
would not be discountenanced by his Majesty as a 
" measure of an inflammatory nature ; " and that 
"when his lordship shall in justice lay a true state of 
those matters before his Majesty, he will no longer 
consider them as tending to create unwarrantable 
combinations, or to excite an unjustifiable opposition 
to the constitutional authority of parliament." This 
is the substance of the letter ; which being twice read 
in the house, was accepted by a large majority of 
ninety-two out of one hundred and five members, and 
ordered to be transmitted by the speaker to his lord 
ship as soon as might be. After which it was im 
mediately mov d, that the question be put, Whether 
the house would rescind the resolution of the last 
house which gave birth to the circular letter ; and 
the question being accordingly put, it pass d in the 
negative, there appearing on a division upon the 
question to be seventeen yeas and ninety-two nays. 

i7?i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 219 

Thus the house determined upon as extraordinary a 
mandate as perhaps was ever laid before a free assem 
bly. It is to us, said the house in their message to 
the governor, altogether incomprehensible, that we 
should be required on the peril of a dissolution of the 
great and general court or assembly of this province, 
to rescind a resolution of a former house of represen 
tatives, when it is evident that such resolution has 
no existence, but as a mere historical fact. Your ex 
cellency must know, that the resolution referred to, 
is, to speak in the language of the common law, not 
now " executory," but to all intents and purposes 
" executed." The circular letter has been sent and 
answered by many of the colonies : These answers 
are now in the public papers ; tJiejDublic will judge 
of the proposals, purposes and answers. We could 
as well rescind those letters as the resolves ; and both 
would be equally fruitless, if by rescinding, as the 
word properly imports, is meant a repeal and nullify 
ing of the resolution referred to. But if, as is most 
probable, by the word, rescinding, is intended the 
passing a vote of this house, in direct and express 
disapprobation of the measure above mentioned, as 
" illegal, inflammatory and tending to promote 
unjustifiable combinations" against his Majesty s 
peace, crown and dignity, we take the liberty to 
testify and publickly to declare, that it is the native, 
inherent and indefeasible right of the subject, jointly 
or severally, to petition the King for the redress of 
grievances. And we are clearly and very firmly of 
opinion that the petition of the late dutiful and loyal 
house, and the other very orderly applications for the 

220 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

redress of grievances, have had the most desirable 
tendencies and effects In another part they say, 
" we cannot but express our deep concern, that a 
measure of the late house in all respects so innocent, 
in most so virtuous and laudable, and as we conceive, 
so truly patriotic, should be represented to adminis 
tration in the odious light of a party and factious 
measure," and finally they say, that in refusing to 
comply with the requisition, " they have been actuated 
by a conscientious and a clear and determined sense 
of duty to God, their King, their country, and their 
latest posterity." This determination of the house 
gave general satisfaction, not only to the people of 
this province, but of the other colonies also ; as well 
as the friends of liberty in Britain. It was spoken of 
by all except the disappointed few, with great ap 
plause. Indeed the essential rights of all were 
involved in the question : A different determination 
would therefore have been to the last degree infamous 
and attended with fatal consequences. Not only the 
right of the subjects /0zW//j/ to petition for the redress 
of grievances which all alike suffer, but also that of 
communicating their sentiments freely to each other 
upon the subject of grievances, and the means of 
redress, which was the sole purport of the circular 
letter, would in effect have been given up. I have 
often thought that in this time of common distress, 
it would be the wisdom of the colonists, more fre 
quently to correspond with, and to be more attentive 
to the particular circumstances of each other. It 
seems of late to have been \hs. policy of the enemies 
of America to point their artillery against one prov- 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 221 

ince only ; and artfully to draw off the attention of 
the other colonies, and if possible to render that 
single province odious to them, while it is suffering 
ministerial vengeance for the sake of the common 
cause. But it is hoped that the colonies will be 
aware of this artifice. At this juncture an attempt to 
subdue one province to despotic power, is justly to be 
considered as an attempt to enslave the whole. The 
colonies " form one political body, of which each is a 
member." The liberties of the whole are invaded 
It is therefore the interest of the whole to support 
each individual with all their weight and influence. 
When the legislative of the colony of New-York was 
suspended, the house of representatives of this prov 
ince consider d it "as alarming to all the colonies;" 
and bore their testimony against it, in a letter to 
their agent, the sentiments of which they directed 
him to make known to his Majesty s ministers. That 
suspension, says the patriotic Pennsylvania Farmer, 
is a parliamentary assertion of the supreme authority 
of the British legislature over these colonies in point 
of taxation ; and is intended to COMPEL New-York 
into a submission to that authority. It seems there 
fore to me as much a violation of the liberty of the 
people of that province, and consequently of all these 
Colonies, as if the Parliament had sent a number of 
regiments (which has since been the fate of this 
province) to be quartered upon them till they should 
comply. Whoever, says he, seriously considers the 
matter, must perceive, that a dreadful stroke is aimed 
at the liberty of these Colonies : For the cause of one 
is the cause of all. If the parliament may lawfully _J 

222 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

deprive New-York of any of its Rights, it may de 
prive any or all the other Colonies of their Rights ; 
and nothing can so much encourage such attempts, 
as a mutual inattention to the interests of each other. 
To divide and thus to destroy, is the first political 
maxim in attacking those who are powerful by their 
union. When Mr. Hampden s ship money cause 
for three shillings and four pence was tried, all the peo 
ple of England, with anxious expectation, interested 
themselves in the important decision : And when 
the slightest point touching the freedom of a single 
Colony is agitated, I earnestly wish, that all the rest 
may with equal ardour support their sister. These are 
the generous sentiments of that celebrated writer, 
whom several have made feeble attempts to answer, 
but no one has yet done it. May the British Ameri 
can Colonies be upon their guard ; and take care lest 
by a mutual inattention to the interest of each other, 
they at length become supine and careless of the 
grand cause of American Liberty, and finally fall a 
I am, 

Your s, 


[Boston Gazette, September 23, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

The consequence of the determination of the house 
of Representatives not to rescind the resolution of the 
former house, of which I gave you a particular account 

i 7 7i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 223 

in my last, was an immediate prorogation of the gen 
eral assembly, and the next day a dissolution, agree 
able to the orders of a minister of state / Governor 
Bernard in a subsequent letter to lord Hillsborough, 
pressed his lordship for further orders respecting the 
calling a new assembly ; and acquainted him that 
" when the usual time should come, it would be quite 
necessary that the governor should be able to vouch 
positive orders for his not calling the assembly, if he 
was not to do it," and he adds that, "with regard to 
calling the new assembly in May, it would require 
much consideration." By the Charter of this province, 
which is a Compact between the Crown and the Peo 
ple, it is ordained that a General Assembly shall be 
called on every last Wednesday in May yearly : Did 
gov. Bernard then think that his lordship, to whom in 
one instance at least, he had surrendered the power 
of the governor of the province, could by another 
order rescind that effectual Right of the Charter? It 
would in truth require much consideration with one, 
even of his lordship s peculiar turn of mind, before he 
would assume an authority to put an end to the con 
stitution of the province : He had gone far enough 
already. The Charter further ordains, that the as 
sembly shall be held " at all such other times as the 
governor shall think fit." Not as lord Hillsborough 
shall think fit, for he is not the governor. Could the 
governor think that the people were so stupid as to 
be satisfied with his vouching orders for neglecting 
that which it was his indispensable duty to do as gov 
ernor of the province ; and by neglecting which, either 
with or without his lordship s orders, there would be an 

224 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

end to the supreme legislative power ; the establish 
ing of which, as Mr. Locke says, is the first and fun 
damental positive law of the commonwealth. The 
general assembly is constituted by the charter, the 
legislative of the province ; having full power and au 
thority to make all such orders, laws, statutes, &c. 
not repugnant to the laws of England, as they shall 
judge to be for the good and welfare of the province. 
" The first framers of the government, not being 
able by any foresight to prefix so just periods of 
return and duration to the assemblies of the legisla 
tive, in all times to come, that might exactly answer 
all the emergencies of the commonweath, the best 
method that could be found, was to trust this to the 
prudence of one, who was always to be present, and 
whose business it should be to watch over the com 
monwealth." Hence the charter provides, that the 
governor who is to reside in the province, and who, 
being always present, must be acquainted with the 
state and exigences of the public affairs, shall have full 
power and authority to adjourn or dissolve the as 
sembly, and call a new one from time to time as he 
shall judge necessary : But our governors have of 
late given up this power of judging to a minister of 
state ; residing at a thousand leagues distance, and 
therefore utterly unable to determine, if it was lawful 
for him to do it, at what time the necessities of the 
state might require the immediate exertion of legisla 
tive power. This ministerial manoeuvre, to speak in 
modern language, which threatens the destruction of 
the constitution, will, it is hoped, be the subject of 
national enquiry, when the present confusion in Brit- 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS, 225 

ain and America shall, as it must soon, be brought to 
a happy issue. " The legislative is sacred and unal 
terable in the hands where the community has fixed 
it." In this province it is fixed by the community, in 
the hands of the Governor, Council and House of 
Representatives : In their hands therefore, it ought 
to rest sacred and unalterable ; to be sure as long as 
the express conditions of the compact are fulfilled. 
Lord Stafford, and many lords and great men before 
him, suffered death for attempting to overthrow the 
constitution of the state. Their crime was called, and 
I supposed justly called, Treason : It surely could 
not have been treason therefore, to have disturbed 
and resisted them in their mad attempts, even though 
they might have produced the orders of a king 
What punishment awaits those who have manifestly 
attempted to overthrow the constitution of the Amer 
ican colonies, the time which we hope for, and is 
hastening on, will determine. If the very being of 
the legislative of this province is for the future to de 
pend upon the mere will and pleasure of an arbitrary 
minister if he may take it upon him to dictate such 
measures as he pleases, and to dissolve them, or which 
is the same thing, order an obsequious governor to do 
it, upon their non-compliance with his will and pleas 
ure, surely we have little to boast of in such an as 
sembly. The charter may be taken away in parts as 
well as in the whole : And it seems by some later 
ministerial mandates and measures, as if there was a 
design to deprive us of our Charter- Rights by degrees : 
An attempt upon the whole by one stroke would 
perhaps be thought too bold an undertaking. His 

VOL. II. 15. 

226 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

lordship could not indeed have chosen a more effectual 
step to deprive us of the whole benefit of a free con 
stitution, than by attempting to controul the debates 
and determinations of the House of Representatives, 
which ought forever to be free, and suspending the 
legislative power of the province, for their refusing to 
obey any mandate, especially when it is not only con 
trary to their judgments and consciences, but, as it 
appeared to them, absurd. It is a pitiful constitution 
indeed, which so far from being fixed and permanent 
as it should be sacred and unalterable in the hands 
of those where the community has placed it, depends 
entirely upon the breath of a minister, or of any man : 
But it is to be feared from this as well as other more 
recent instances, that there is a design to rase the 
foundations of the constitutions of these colonies, and 
place them upon this precarious and sandy founda 
tion. I have seen a letter from the agent of this 
province to the government here, dated so long ago 
as March the 7th, 1 750 ; wherein he says, " I am afraid 
there is at bottom in the minds of some, a fixed de 
sign of getting a parliamentary sanction of some kind 
or other, if possible, to the King s instructions on this 
occasion ; " which was the redressing the inconvenien- 
cies proceeding from the paper bills. And in an 
other letter of the 1 2th of April following, he writes, 
" Since my last, I have found too great reason to con 
firm my apprehensions, that some persons of conse 
quence here, are determined, if possible, to put the 
future use of the credit of the several governments 
of New England, wholly under the power of an in 
struction ; and what tendency that may have to intro- 

I77i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 227 

duce the Kings instructions into the government of the 
other colonies, in other instances, I need not observe. 
This design seems to be conducted with great art 
The fears of that watchful agent, there is reason to 
apprehend, from the perfect good understanding that 
now exists between the ruling men in the American 
department, on both sides the atlantic, may very soon 
be far from appearing groundless. Instructions have 
of late been so frequent, and in every instance so 
punctiliously obeyed, that there is reason to fear, un 
less greater attention is had to them, they soon will 
be established as rules of administration, not only to 
governors as servants of the crown, but to legislatures. 
The enforcing them seems to be conducted with equal 
art on this side of the water at present, to that with 
which the original design of introducing them was 
conducted on the other side, when that agent wrote. 
They may soon therefore be regarded %s fixed laws 
in the colonies, even without the sanction or interven 
tion of parliament. Principiis obsta, is a maxim worth 
regarding in politics as well as morals ; and it is more 
especially to be observed, when those who are the 
most assiduous in their endeavours to alter the civil 
constitution, are not less so in persuading us to go to 
sleep and dream that we are in a state of perfect 
security. What benefit is it to us to have a governor 
residing in the province, invested with certain powers 
of judging, and acting according to his own judgment, 
for the good of the people, if he submit to be made a 
man of wire, & for the sake of preserving the emolu 
ment of a governor, with the name only, is turned 
this way or that, as the minister directs, without any 

228 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

judgment of his own ? And of what use can a legisla 
tive be to us, without the free exercise of the powers of 
legislation ? Liable to be thrown out of existence for 
not acting in conformity to the will of another ? Can 
there be any material difference between such a legisla 
tive and none at all ? The original constitution of this 
province, the charter, required the convening of a new 
general assembly in May : The public exigencies might 
have required it sooner : But governor Bernard was 
determined in neither of these cases to convene an as 
sembly, if he could but vouch the positive orders of 
the minister, who had no right or legal authority at 
all to interpose in the matter. " The using of force 
upon the people without authority, and contrary to 
the trust reposed in him that does so, is a state of 
war with the people ; " This is the judgment of one 
of the greatest men that ever wrote. "If the execu 
tive power, being possessed of the power of the com 
monwealth, shall make use of that force to hinder the 
meeting and acting of the legislative, when the original 
constitution or the public exigencies shall require it, 
the people have a right to reinstate their legislative in 
the exercise of their power : For having erected a 
legislative, with an intent they should exercise the 
power of making laws, either at certain set times or 
when there is need of it, if they are hindered by any 
force from what is so necessary to the society, and 
wherein the safety and preservation of the people 
consists, they have a right to remove it by force" 
From this instance of the dissolution of the assembly 
of this province, as well as that of the suspension of the 
legislative of New York, for refusing to execute an act 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 229 

of parliament, requiring them to give and grant away 
their own and their constituents money for the sup 
port of a standing army, posterity will form a judg 
ment of the temper of the British administration at 
that time : Whether a different disposition has since 
prevailed, will appear from the measures they have 
taken in general ; and particularly from the answers 
to the addresses, petitions and remonstrances which we 
have lately seen. One would have thought that the 
American legislative assemblies had become too harm 
less bodies to have been the object of ministerial rage, 
since the passing of acts of parliament for the sole 
purpose of raising revenues at the expence of the 
colonists, without their consent, and for appropriating 
those revenues as they should think proper. The 
most essential Rights of American legislation, are 
those of raising and applying their own monies for 
the support of their own government, and for their 
own defence : By the late revenue acts, these rights 
are in effect superseded ; the parliament having al 
ready granted, such sums as they please, out of the 
purses of the colonists, for the same purposes. Thus 
the shadow of legislation only remains to them : 
Their importance is at an end. They may indeed, as 
the Pennsylvania farmer observes, whose works I wish 
every American would read over again, " They may 
perhaps be allowed to make laws for yoking of hogs 
or pounding of stray cattle : Their influence will 
hardly be permitted to extend so high as the keeping 
roads in repair ; as that business may more properly 
be executed by those who receive the public cash." 
Their substantial rights and powers, lord Hillsborough 

2 so THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

himself should know, are as really annihilated by these 
acts, as they would be, if they were deprived of all 
existence. " Upon what occasion, says that elegant 
writer, will the crown ever call our assemblies together, 
when, the charges of the administration of justice, the 
support of civil government, and the expences of pro 
tecting, defending and securing us, are provided for " by 
the parliament? " Some few of them may meet of 
their own accord, by virtue of their several charters : 
But what will they have to do when they are met ? 
To what shadows will they be reduced ? The men, 
whose deliberations heretofore, had an influence on 
every matter relating to the liberty and happiness of 
themselves and their constituents, and whose author 
ity in domestic affairs at least, might well be compared 
to that of Roman senators, will find their determina 
tions to be of no more consequence than that of con 
stables." And this will not be the utmost extent of 
our misery and infamy. 



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text, with variations, is in R. 
H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 177-183.] 

BOSTON Sept 27 1771 


I am greatly indebted to you for your several Let 
ters of [the loth and i4th of June]. 

To let you know that I am far from being inatten 
tive to the favors you have done me I inclose you a 
Letter I wrote you some time past, but was prevented 
putting it in the Bag by an Accident. I have since been 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 231 

confind to my house by Sickness & by a late Excur 
sion into the Country I have fully recoverd my 

I take particular Notice of the Reasons you assign 
for a whole Session of parliam* being spent without 
one offensive Measure to America. You account for 
our being flatterd that all Designs against the Char 
ter of the Colony are laid aside, in a manner perfectly 
corresponding with the Sentiments I had preconceivd 
of it. The opinion you have formd of the ruling men 
on both sides the Atlantick, is exactly mine and as I 
have the most unfavorable Idea of the Heads or the 
Hearts of the present Administration, I cannot hope 
for much Good from the Services of any man who 
can submit to be dependent on them. 

I was pleasd with the petition & remonstrance of 
the City of London but are not the Ministry lost to 
all Sensibility to the peoples Complaints, & like the 
Egyptian Tyrant, do they not harden their Hearts 
against their repeated Demands for a redress of 
Grievances. Does it not fully appear not only that 
they neither fear God nor regard Man, but that they 
are not even to be wearied, as one of their ancient 
predecessors was, by frequent Applications. What 
do you conceive to be the Step next to be taken by 
an abused people ? For another must be taken either 
by the ministry or the people or in my opinion the 
nation will fall into that ruin of which they seem to 
me to be now at the very precipice. May God afford 
them that Prudence, Strength & fortitude by which 
they may be animated to maintain their own Liberties 
at all Events. By your last letter you appear to resolve 

232 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

well ; if ever the Spirit of impeaching should rise in 
Britain. But how is it possible such a Spirit should 
rise. In all former Struggles the House of Commons 
has naturally taken Sides with the people against op 
pressing Ministers & Favorites. But whether that is 
the Case at present or not, is no secret to the World. 
We have indeed heard little of the Business of im 
peaching since the Revolution. A corrupt ministerial 
Influence has been gradually & too insensibly increas 
ing from that QEra, & is at length become so pow 
erful (for which I think the Nation is particularly 
beholden to Sir R. Walpole) as to render it impracti 
cable to have even one capital Object of the peoples 
just Vengeance impeachd. The proposals you were 
so kind as [to] favor me with, I cannot but highly ap 
prove of. I communicated them to two or three in 
timate & judicious friends who equally approvd of 
them. But they cannot be carried into Execution 
till the present parliam 1 is at an End. And if it is 
not to be dissolvd before the End of its septennial 
Duration, is it not to be feard that before its Expira 
tion there will be an End of Liberty. If I mistake not 
there is an Act of parliam 1 whereby the Seats of 
placemen and pensioners in the House of Commons 
(who were not such at the time of their Election) shall 
be vacated, & their Electors have a right to the 
Choice of another if they see proper. Perhaps there 
never was a time when the Advantages of this Law 
were more apparent. Would it not then be doing the 
most important Service to the Cause of Liberty if the 
Gentlemen of the Bill of Rights, who I pray God 
may be united in their Councils, would exert their 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 233 

utmost Influence to prevail upon the Constituents of 
such rotten Members to claim that privilege & make 
a good Use of it ? If there is any Virtue among the 
people, I should think this might easily be done. If 
it be impracticable, I fear another general Election 
w d only serve to convince all of what many are appre 
hensive, that there is a total Depravation of princi 
ples & manners in the Nation, or in other Words that 
it is already irrecoverably undone. 

We are in a State of perfect Despotism. Our 
Governm 1 is essentially alterd. Instead of having 
a Gov exercising Authority within the Rules & 
Circumscription of the Charter which is the Compact 
between the King & the People, & dependent upon 
the people for his Support, we have a Man with the 
Name of a Governor only. He is indeed commis- 1 
siond by the King, but under the Controul of the J 
Minister, to whose Instructions he yields an unlimitted 
Obedience, while he is subsisted with the Money of 
that very people who are thus governd, by virtue of 
an Assumd Authority of the British Parliament to 
oblige them to grant him such an annual Stipend as 
the King shall order. Can you tell me who is Gov 
ernor of this province ? Surely not Hutchinson, for 
I cannot conceive that he exercises the power of 
judging vested in him by the Constitution, in one Act 
of Gov 1 which appears to him to be important. The -\ 
Gov 1 is shifted into the Hands of the Earl of Hills- \ 
borough whose sole Councellor is the Nettleham 
Baronet. Upon this Governor aided by the Advice 
of this Councellor depends the time & place of the 
Sitting of the legislative Assembly or whether it shall 

234 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

sit at all. If they are allowd to sit, they are to be dic 
tated by this duumvirate, thro the Instrumentality of 
a third, & may be thrown out of Existence for failing 
in one point to conform to their sovereign pleasure, a 
Legislative to be sure worthy to be boasted of by a 
free people. If our nominal Governor by all the Arts 
of perswasion, can prevail upon us to be easy under 
such a Mode of Government, he will do a singular 
piece of Service to his Lordship, as it will save him 
the trouble of geting our Charter vacated by the for 
mal Decision of parliam 1 & the tedious process of 

The Grievances of Britain & the Colonies as you 
observe spring from the same root of Bitterness & 
are of the same pernicious Growth. The Union of 
Britain & the Colonies is therefore by all means to be 
cultivated. If in every Colony Societies should be 
formd out of the most respectable Inhabitants, similar 
to that of the Bill of Rights, who should once in the 
year meet by their Deputies, and correspond with such 
a Society in London, would it not effectually promote 
such an Union ? And if conducted with a proper 
spirit, would it not afford reason for the Enemies of 
our common Liberty, however great, to tremble. 
This is a sudden Thought & drops undigested from 
my pen. It would be an arduous Task for any man 
to attempt to awaken a sufficient Number in the 
Colonies to so grand an Undertaking. Nothing how 
ever should be despaird of. 

If it should ever become a practicable thing to 
impeach a corrupt Administration I hope the Min 
ister who advisd to the introducing arbitrary power 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 235 

into America will not be overlookd. Such a Victim I 
imagine will make a figure equal to Lord Strafford in 
the Reign of Charles, or de le Pole & others in former 
times. " The Conduct of the Judges touching 
Juries " appears to be alarming on both sides of the 
Water & ought to be strictly enquired into. And are 
they not establishing the civil Law which M r Black- 
stone says is only permitted in England to the 
prejudice of the Common Law, the Consequence of 
which will prove fatal to the happy Constitution. I 
observe that one of your proposals is that a Law may 
be made " subjecting each Candidate to an Oath 
against having used Bribery " to obtain his Election. 
Would there not be a danger that a Law by which a 
Candidate may purge himself by his Oath would ex 
clude some other more certain Evidence than the 
Oath of one who has already prostituted his Con 
science for a Seat than his own Declaration of his 
Innocence even upon Oath ? I am of opinion that 
He who can be so sordid as to gain an Election by 
Bribery or any other illegal means, must be lost to all 
such feelings as those of Honor or Conscience or the 
Obligation of an Oath. With Regard the Grievances 
of the Americans it must be owned that the Violation 
of the essential Right of taxing themselves is a Capi 
tal one. This Right is founded in Nature. It is un- 
alienable & therefore it belongs to us exclusively. 
The least Infringement on it is Sacrilege. But there 
are other Methods taken by Lord Hillsbro & punc 
tually put into Execution by Gov r Hutchinson, 
which in my Opinion would give a mortal Stab to 
our essential Rights, if the Parliament had not by 

236 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

their declaratory Act claimd Authority to make 
use of our money to establish a standing army 
over us & an host of pensioners and placemen civil 
& ecclesiastical, which are as terrible as an Array of 
Soldiers. And if the Commons of this province 
cannot impeach, we have nothing to rely upon but 
the Interposition of our friends in Britain, or the 
ultima Ratio. 

Inclosd you have a Copy of the protests of divers 
patriotick Clergymen in Virginia against an Episco 
pate in America. It is part of the plan the design of 
which is to secure a ministerial Influence in America, 
which in all Reason is full strong enough without the 
Aid of the Clergy. The Junction of the Cannon & 
the feudal Law you know has been fatal to the Liber 
ties of Mankind. The Design of the first Settlers of 
New England in particular was to settle a plan of 
gov 4 upon the true principles of Liberty in which the 
Clergy should have no Authority. It is no Wonder 
then that we should be alarmd at the Designs of 
establishing such a power. It is a singular pleasure 
to us that the Colony of Virginia tho episcopalian 
should appear against it as you will see by the Vote 
of thanks of the House of Burgesses to the protest 
ing Gentlemen ; they declare their protest to be " a 
wise & well timed opposition." I wish it could be 
publishd in London. I had the pleasure of knowing 
M r Hewet who was in this Town about two years ago 
in Company with M r Eyre of Northhampton County, 
in Virginia, who is a member of the House of Bur 
gesses. I did not then know that M r Hewet was a 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 237 

I fear I have tired your patience & conclude by as 
suring you that I am in strict Truth 

Sir Your friend & hum 6 serv* 

P.S. The Bearer hereof is William Story Esq r 
formerly of this Town, but now of Ipswich a Town 
about 30 Miles East. He was Deputy Register 
in the Court of Vice Admiraltry before & at the time 
of the Stamp Act & would then have given up the 
Place as he declared but his Friends advisd him against 
it he sufferd the Resentment of the people on the 
26 of August 1765, together with L l Gov r Hutchinson 
& others for which he was recompencd by the Gen 1 
Assembly, as he declares in part only. He tells me 
that his Design in going home is to settle an Affair of 
his own relating to the Admiraltry Court, in which the 
Commissioners of the Customs as he says declare it is 
out of their power to do him Justice. One would 
think it was never in their Power or Inclination to 
do any man Justice. M r Story has always professd 
himself a Friend to Liberty for many years past. I 
tell him that I make no doubt but you will befriend 
him as far as shall be in your power in obtaining 
Justice, in which you will very much oblige, 

[Boston Gazette, September 30, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

A General Assembly, when actuated with a be 
coming spirit of public liberty against the attacks of 
arbitrary and despotic ministers, appeared to be as 

238 THE WRITINGS OF [177! 

disgustful to Gov. Bernard, as parliaments were to 
James the first ; with whom it was even an aphorism 
that the lords and commons were two bad co-partners 
with a monarch : Having got rid of such a trouble 
some assembly at least for one year, he was more at 
leisure, in conjunction with the commissioners of the 
customs and his other confederates, to attend to the 
plan which their hearts had been long set upon, of in 
troducing into the province a military power for their 
aid. Accordingly every little occurrence, which a 
man of sense who had no political designs in view 
would not have thought worth his notice such as fre 
quently happen in the most orderly cities, was gath 
ered up with uncommon industry and made the 
subject of representation to the ministry He even 
descended so low as to give lord Hillsborough a 
/""^letail of the diversion of a few boys in the street with 
\ a drum, which at no time is unusual in populous 
\ places, and pictured it to his lordship, who, it seems 
/ gave it its full weight, as a prelude to a designed in- 
\ surrection, in which " persons of all kinds, sexes and 
\ ages," were to bear their part The common amuse 
ments of children were construed rebellion, and his 
lordship had minute accounts of them sent to him by 
this busy journalist, as grounds upon which he might 
form measures of administration. But his letters, 
together with those of general Gage and commodore 
Hood, and the memorials, &c. of the commissioners 
of the customs, have already been sufficiently ani 
madverted upon " No one, says the town of Boston, 
in a pamphlet, entitled, An appeal to the World}* can 

1 See Vol. I., page 396. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 239 

read them without being astonished at seeing a per 
son in so important a department as governor Ber 
nard sustained, descending in his letters to a minister 
of state to such trifling circumstances and such slan 
derous chit-chat: Boasting as he does in one of 
them of his over-reaching those with whom he was 
transacting publick business ; and in order to preju 
dice the most respectable bodies, meanly filching from 
individuals belonging to those bodies, what had been 
drop d in the course of business or debate : Journal 
izing every idle report bro t to him, and in short 
acting the part of a pimp rather than a governor" 
Sufficient however were they finally to prevail upon 
administration, which had before been full ready eno 
to employ the military force in England, to order 
four regiments and part of a fifth, for the preservation 
0/"the peace in the town of Boston. The only dis 
orders in the town that could give any colouring to 
measures so severe, and not more severe than un 
justifiable by the constitution, happened on the i8th of 
March and loth of June, 1768 The first was nothing 
more than the parading of the lower sort of people 
thro the streets at the close of an anniversary fes 
tivity ; when no injury was offered to any person 
whatever, no harm was done, nor did even Governor 
Bernard himself pretend that any was intended. 
General Gage, in a letter to Lord Hillsborough, 
mentioned this disorder as " trifling." The other 
was occasioned by the unprecedented and unlawful 
manner of seizing a vessel by the collector and comp 
troller His Majesty s Council after full enquiry 
into this disorder and the cause of it, declared, that it 

240 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

"was occasioned by the making a seizure (in a man 
ner unprecedented) in the town of Boston on the 
loth of June, 1 a little before sun-set, when a vessel 
was seized by the officers of the customs ; and 
immediately after, upon a signal given by one of said 
officers, in consequence of a preconcerted plan, sev 
eral armed boats from the Romney man-of-war took 
possession of her." The officers who made the 
seizure were insulted, some of the windows of their 
dwelling houses were broke, and other disorders 
were committed But the council further declared, 
that it was " highly probable that no such disorders 
would have been committed if the vessel had not 
been with an armed force and with many circum 
stances of insults & threats carried away from the 
wharff." They also say, that the disorder " seemed to 
spring wholly from the persons who complained of it" 
and that it " was probable that an uproar was hoped 
for, and intended to be occasioned by the manner of 
proceeding in making the seizure." This representa 
tion of the matter was made by those very gentlemen, 
of whom governor Bernard not above 3 or 4 months 
before, had given this ample testimony to Lord 
Hillsborough ; that "they had shown great attention 
to the support of government," and " upon many oc 
casions a resolution and steadiness in promoting his 
Majesty s service, which would have done honor to 
his Majesty s appointment, if they had held their 
places under it : " And to whom he about the same 
time very warmly returned his thanks, " for their 
steady, uniform and patriotic conduct, which had 

1 See Vol. I., page 245. 

i77i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 241 

shown them impressed with a full sense of their duty 
both to their king & their country." A representation 
of matters of fact, made by gentlemen whom gov 
ernor Bernard had so highly applauded for their atten 
tion to the support of government, and resolution and 
steadiness in promoting his Majesty s service, must 
surely meet with full credit with \^ friends of govern 
ment ; and induce a conclusion, even in their minds, 
that if there was a necessity of troops in the town of 
Boston to keep the peace, it arose not from the " mad 
ness of the people," (a decent expression of General 
Gage) but altogether from the extravagance of the 
servants of the crown ; who after a preconcerted plan y 
according to the account given by the council, hoped 
for, and intended that an uproar should be occasioned, 
by the manner of their proceeding with an armed 
force, and many circumstances of insult and threats 
in making a seizure. This disturbance, after a few 
hours, wholly subsided, thro the interposition of the 
inhabitants of the town, & no great mischief was done ; 
yet the most aggravated accounts were given of it by 
the Cabal, to answer their own purposes. The Rom- 
ney ship of war, had before been ordered by com 
modore Hood to this place, in consequence of 
information sent to him of a factious and turbulent 
spirit among the people. The captain thought it his 
duty to acquaint the commodore of this fresh dis 
turbance ; and the Beaver sloop, being then in the 
harbour, and preparing for her station at Philadel 
phia, was remanded back to Halifax for that purpose, 
and with such speed as to be obliged to leave part of 
her provisions behind Large packets were sent by 

VOL. II. 1 6. 

242 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

this vessel to the commodore, and others for England, 
where it was proposed by the cabal she should be 
immediately dispatched from Halifax. The comp 
troller of the customs embark d on board the same 
sloop very privately, by whom letters in abundance 
were sent to London. In these letters a number of 
gentlemen, who were called the leaders of the faction, 
were proscribed. Some of the cabal could not con 
ceal their designs ; for it was even then given out by 
them, that troops would probably soon arrive from 
Halifax, and that two regiments of Irish troops were 
to be sent to this town ; all which accordingly took 
place in about four months afterwards, being the 
time in which they might have been expected by 
orders of the ministry in consequence of these letters. 
Indeed we have since been made certain by a publica 
tion of their own letters, that they had earnestly 
sollicited the sending of troops about this time. The 
commissioners of the customs in a letter to the lords 
of the treasury, acquainted that board " that there 
had been a long concerted and extensive plan of re 
sistance to the authority of Great Britain, and that 
the seizure had hastened the people to the commis 
sion of actual violence sooner than was intended" and 
further, " that nothing but the exertion of military 
power would prevent an open revolt in this town, which 
would probably spread throughout the provinces." 
The collector and comptroller in their letters upon 
this occasion to the commissioners, which was laid 
before administration tell their honors, " that it ap 
peared evident to them that a plan of insurrection of 
a very dangerous and extensive nature had long been in 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 243 

agitation, & now brought nearly to a crisis" But it 
is needless to repeat the many exaggerated accounts 
given by the governor and his confederates, of this 
occurrence, which on the part of the people was alto 
gether unexpected , and as the Council observed, 
" seemd to have sprang wholly from the persons who 
complained of it."- -To crown all, the Commissioners 
pretended that "they had reason to expect further 
violences," and fled, Bernard says in a letter to lord 
Hillsborough, "were driven" to Castle William; 
where they represented to the lords of the treasury 
that the " protection afforded them by Commodore 
Hood, viz. the Romney and one or two sloops of 
war, was the most seasonable, as without it they 
should not have considered themselves (even there) 
in safety, nor his Majesty s Castle secured from fall 
ing into the hands of the people" and " that it was im 
possible for them to set foot in Boston, until there 
were two or three regiments in the town, to restore and 
support government" However true it may be, that 
the Commissioners had rendered themselves the ob 
jects of the publick resentment, which their letters 
and memorials have had no tendency to abate, they 
never had been, to use an expression of Gov. Bernard, 
the objects of popular fury ; not the least injury had 
ever been offer d to their persons or property. They 
had landed without opposition, and had lived in the 
town many months, if despisd and hated, yet unmo 
lested : For this we have the testimony of his 
Majesty s Council ; " They were not, say they, 
oblig d to quit the town it was a voluntary act of 
their own there never had been any insult offer d 

244 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

them and when they were at the Castle there was 
no occasion for men of war to protect them." And 
even after their voluntary flight, they often made 
excursions upon the main, for the purpose of amuse 
ment and recreation, for which, having quitted the 
severe exercises of their employment in the town, they 
now had sufficient leisure : There, they might easily 
have been insulted if there had been any such dispo 
sition in the people. It has long been evident that 
all this pretended apprehension of danger, and their 
flight first to the Romney ship of war, and then to the 
castle for protection, was intended to cooperate with 
& confirm the letters and memorials sent home, and 
to facilitate the prosecution of their design. Such 
were the methods us d by a restless set of men, to 
hold up this town and province, to the nation and to 
the world, in a false and odious light. It was there 
fore peculiarly incumbent upon all, and those persons 
especially, who were entrusted by the publick, to be 
vigilant for it, at a time when they who were seeking 
its ruin, were remarkably attentive to and active in 
prosecuting their plans. And can any one say there 
is reason to think that a minister of the temper of 
Lord H h, perpetually acted upon by the im 
placable hatred of Bernard, has yet abandon d, or is 
likely to abandon, his favorite system, while there is 
ONE left on this side the water who is ready to put 
it in execution ? No The disputes with the court of 
Spain and the city of London during the late session 
of parliament, may have prov d so embarrassing to 
A n as to have caus d a suspension of the exe 
cution of it for a while ; but to trust that it is there- 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 245 

fore wholly laid aside, is a degree of credulity and 
infatuation, which I hope will never be impos d by 
any man on this country. Great pains we know are 
taken to perswade and assure us, that as long as we 
continue quiet, nothing will be done to our prejudice : 
But let us beware of these soothing arts. Has any 
thing been done for our relief ? Has any one griev 
ance which we have complained of been redressed ? 
On the contrary, are not our just causes of complaint 
and remonstrance daily increasing, at a time when we 
were flattered that a change of men would produce a 
change of measures ? Have our petitions for the 
redress of grievances ever been answered or even 
listened to ? If not, what can be intended by all the 
fair promises made to us by tools and sycophants, but 
to lull us into that quietude and sleep by which slavery 
is always preceeded. While treachery and imposition 
is the fort of any man, let us remember, there is 
always most danger when his professions are warmest. 



[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., p. 183.] 

BOSTON, Oct. 2d, 1771. 


I have already written to you by this conveyance, 
and there mentioned to you Mr. Story, a gentleman 
to whose care I committed that letter. I have since 
heard that he has a letter to Lord Hillsborough from 
Gov. Hutchinson, which may possibly recommend 
him for some place by way of compensation for his 

246 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

joint sufferings with the governor. I do not think it 
possible for any man to receive his lordship s favour, 
without purchasing it by having done or promising 
to do some kind of jobs. If Mr. Story should form 
connexions with administration upon any principles 
inconsistent with those of a friend to liberty, he will 
then appear to be a different character from that 
which I recommended to your friendship. I mention 
this for your caution, and in confidence ; and am 
with great regard sir, your humble servant, 

[Boston Gazette \ October 7, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 
Instead of voted Aid, 

" Th illegal imposition followed harsh 
With Execration given, or ruthless squeezed 
From an insulted People." 


I Think it necessary the publick should be inform d, 
that his Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq; Gov 
ernor of this Province, has lately received, a warrant 
from the Lords of the Treasury in England, for the 
Sum of Twenty-two Hundred and fifty Pounds Ster 
ling for his Services for one year and a half, being at 
the rate of Fifteen Hundred Sterling or Two Thousand 
L. M. per Ann. The payment is to be made out of 
the Commissioners Chest ; wherein are reposited the 
Treasures that are daily collected, tho perhaps insen 
sibly, from the Earnings and Industry of the honest 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 247 

Yeomen, Merchants and Tradesmen, of this continent, 
against their Consent ; and if his friends speak the 
truth, against his awn private judgment. This treas 
ure is to be appropriated according to the act of 
parliament so justly and loudly complain d of by 
Americans, for the support of civil government, the 
payment of the charges of the administration of jus 
tice, and the defence of the colonies ^And it may 
hereafter be made use of, for the support of standing 
armies and ships of war ; episcopates & their numer 
ous ecclesiastical retinue ; pensioners, placemen and 
other jobbers, for an abandon d and shameless minis 
try ; hirelings, pimps, parasites, panders, prostitutes 
and whores^His Excellency had repeatedly refused 
to accept the usual Salary out of the treasury of this 
province ; which leads us to think that his eminent 
patron the Earl of Hillsborough, or his most re 
spected friend Sir Francis Bernard, who is ever at 
his Lordship s elbow, had given him certain informa 
tion that this honorable stipend would be allow d to 
him Whether he tho t the generous grant of a thou 
sand sterling, annually made to his predecessors, and 
offer d to him, by the assembly, not adequate to his 
important services to the province in supporting and 
vindicating its charter and constitutional rights and 
liberties ; or whether he was forbid by instruction 
from his Lordship to receive it, which is probable 
from his own words, " I could not consistent with my 
duty to the King " ; or lastly, and which is still more 
probable, Whether he was ambitious of being, beyond 
any of his predecessors, a Governor independent of 
the free grants of the assembly, which is no doubt 

248 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

reconcileable with his Excellency s idea of a constitu 
tional governor of a free people, are matters problem 
atical. Adulating Priestlings and others, who have 
sounded his high praises in the news-papers, and in 
the church of God, as well as in other solemn assem 
blies, may perhaps echo the fallacious reasoning from 
one of his publick speeches, " The people will not 
blame (him) for being willing to avoid burdening 
them with his support, by the increase of the tax 
upon their polls and estates," since it is now " pro 
vided for another way." In all ages the supercilious 
part of the clergy have adored the Great Man, and 
shown a thorough contempt of the understanding 
of the people. But the people, and a great part, I 
hope, of the clergy of this enlightened country, have 
understanding enough to know, that a Governor in 
dependent of the people for his support, as well as his 
political Being, is in fact, a MASTER ; and may be, and 
probably, such is the nature of uncontroulable power, 
soon will be a TYRANT. It will be recorded by the 
faithful historian, for the information of posterity, 
that the first American Pensioner the first independ 
ent Governor of this province, was, not a stranger, 
but one "born and educated" in it Not an ANDROSS 
or a RANDOLPH ; but that cordial friend to our civil 
constitution that main Pillar of the Religion and the 
Learning of this country ; the Man, upon whom she 
has, (I will not say wantonly) heaped all the Honors 
she had to bestow HUTCHINSON ! ! We are told 
that the Justices of the Superior Court are also to 
receive fixed salaries out of this American revenue ! 
" Is it possible to form an idea of slavery, more com- 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 249 

pleat, more miserable, more disgraceful, than that of 
a people, where justice is administer d, government 
exercis d, and a standing army maintain d, at the ex- 
pence of the people, and yet without the least depend 
ence upon them ? If we can find no relief from this 
infamous situation" I repeat it, " If we can find no 
relief from this infamous situation ", let the ministry 
who have stripped us of our property and liberty, de 
prive us of our understanding too ; that unconscious 
of what we have been or are, and ungoaded by tor 
menting reflections, we may tamely bow down our 
necks, with all the stupid serenity of servitude, to any 
drudgery which our lords & masters may please to 
command." I appeal to the common sense of man 
kind. To what a state of misery and infamy must a 
people be reduced ! To have a governor by the sole 
appointment of the crown ; under the absolute con- 
troul of a weak and arbitrary minister, to whose dic 
tates he is to yield an unlimited obedience, or forfeit 
his political existence . while he is to be supported at 
the expence of the people, by virtue of an authority 
claimed by strangers, to oblige them to contribute for 
him such an annual stipend, however unbounded, as 
the crown shall be advised to order ! If this be not 
a state of despotism, what is f Could such a gov 
ernor, by all the arts of persuasion, prevail upon a 
people to be quiet and contented under such a mode 
of government, his noble patron might spare himself 
the trouble of getting their Charter vacated by a 
formal decision of parliament, or in the tedious pro 
cess of law Whenever the relentless enemies of 
America shall have compleated their system, which 

250 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

they are still, though more silently pursuing, by subtle 
arts, deep dissimulation, and manners calculated to 
deceive, our condition will then be more humiliating 
and miserable, and perhaps more inextricable too, than 
that of the people of England in the infamous reigns 
of the Stuarts, which blacken the pages of history ; 

" Oppression stalk d at large and pour d abroad 
Her unrelenting Train; Informers Spies 
Hateful Projectors of aggrieving Schemes 
To sell the starving many to the few, 
And drain a thousand Ways th exhausted Land. 
. . . And on the venal Bench 
Instead of Justice, Party held the Scale, 
And Violence the Sword." 

Your s, 


[Boston Gazette, October 14, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

" Ambition saw that stooping Rome could bear 
A MASTER, nor had Virtue to be free." 

I Believe that no people ever yet groaned under the 
heavy yoke of slavery, but when they deserv d it. 
This may be called a severe censure upon by far the 
greatest part of the nations in the world who are in- 
volv d in the misery of servitude : But however they 
may be thought by some to deserve commiseration, 
the censure is just. Zuinglius, one of the first re- 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 251 

formers, in his friendly admonition to the republic of 
the Switzers, discourses much of his countrymens 
throwing off the yoke : He says, that they who lie 
under oppression deserve what they suffer , and a great 
deal more ; and he bids them perish with their oppres 
sors. The truth is, All might be free if they valued 
freedom, and defended it as they ought. Is it possi 
ble that millions could be enslaved by a few, which is 
a notorious fact, if all possessed the independent 
spirit of Brutus, who to his immortal honor, expelled 
the proud Tyrant of Rome, and his " royal and rebel 
lious race ?" If therefore a people will not be free ; 
if they have not virtue enough to maintain their 
liberty against a presumptuous invader, they deserve 
no pity, and are to be treated with contempt and ig 
nominy. Had not Casar seen that Rome was ready 
to stoop, he would not have dared to make himself the 
master of that once brave people. He was indeed, as 
a great writer observes, a smooth and subtle tyrant, 
who led \hen\gently into slavery ; " and on his brow, 
ore daring vice deluding virtue smil d ". By pretend 
ing to be the peoples greatest friend, he gain d the 
ascendency over them : By beguiling arts, hypocrisy 
and flattery, which are even more fatal than the 
sword, he obtain d that supreme power which his am 
bitious soul had long thirsted for : The people were 
finally prevail d upon to consent to their own ruin : 
By the force of perswasion, or rather by cajoling arts 
and tricks always made use of by men who have am 
bitious views, they enacted their Lex Regia ; whereby 
Quod placuit principi legis habuit vigor em ; that is, the 
will and pleasure of the Prince had the force of law. 

252 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

His minions had taken infinite pains to paint to their 
imaginations the god-like virtues of Caesar : They 
first persuaded them to believe that he was a deity, 
and then to sacrifice to him those Rights and Liber 
ties which their ancestors had so long maintained, 
with unexampled bravery, and with blood & treasure. 
By this act they fixed a precedent fatal to all pos 
terity : The Roman people afterwards, influenced no 
doubt by this pernicious example, renew d it to his 
successors, not at the end of every ten years, but for 
life. They transfer d all their right and power to 
Charles the Great : In eum transtulit omne suum jus 
et potestatem. Thus, they voluntarily and ignomini- 
ously surrendered their own liberty, and exchanged a 
free constitution for a TYRANNY ! 

It is not my design at present to form the compari 
son between the state of this country now, and that 
of the Roman Empire in those dregs of time ; or be 
tween the disposition of Ccesar, and that of : 

The comparison, I confess, would not in all parts hold 
good : The Tyrant of Rome, to do him justice, had 
learning, courage, and great abilities. It behoves us 
however to awake and advert to the danger we are in. 
The Tragedy of American Freedom, it is to be feared 
is nearly compleated : A Tyranny seems to be at the 
very door. It is to little purpose then to go about 
cooly to rehearse the gradual steps that have been 
taken, the means that have been used, and the instru 
ments employed, to encompass the ruin of the public 
liberty : We know them and we detest them. But 
what will this avail, if we have not courage and reso 
lution to prevent the completion of their system ? 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 253 

Our enemies would fain have us lie down on the 
bed of sloth and security, and persuade ourselves that 
there is no danger : They are daily administering 
the opiate with multiplied arts and delusions ; and I 
am sorry to observe, that the gilded pill is so alluring 
to some who call themselves the friends of Liberty. 
But is there no danger when the very foundations of 
our civil constitution tremble ? When an attempt 
was first made to disturb the corner-stone of the 
fabrick, we were universally and justly alarmed : And 
can we be cool spectators, when we see it already re 
moved from its place ? With what resentment and 
indignation did we first receive the intelligence of 
a design to make us tributary, not to natural enemies, 
but infinitely more humiliating, to fellow subjects ? 
And yet with unparallelled insolence we are told to 
be quiet, when we see that very money which is torn 
from us by lawless force, made use of still further to 
oppress us to feed and pamper a set of infamous 
wretches, who swarm like the locusts of Egypt ; and 
some of them expect to revel in wealth and riot on 
the spoils of our country. Is it a time for us to sleep 
when our free government is essentially changed, and 
a new one is forming upon a quite different system ? 
A government without the least dependance upon the 
people : A government under the absolute controul 
of a minister of state ; upon whose sovereign dictates 
is to depend not only the time when, and the place 
where, the legislative assembly shall sit, but whether 
it shall sit at all : And if it is allowed to meet, it shall 
be liable immediately to be thrown out of existence, if 
in any one point it fails in obedience to his arbitrary 

254 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

mandates. Have we not already seen specimens 
of what we are to expect under such a govern 
ment, in the instructions which Mr. HUTCHINSON 
has received, and which he has publickly avow d, 
and declared he is bound to obey? By one, he 
is to refuse his assent to a tax-bill, unless the Com 
missioners of the Customs and other favorites are ex 
empted : And if these may be freed from taxes by 
the order of a minister, may not all his tools and 
drudges, or any others who are subservient to his de 
signs, expect the same indulgence ? By another he is 
to forbid to pass a grant of the assembly to any agent, 
but one to whose election he has given his consent ; 
which is in effect to put it out of our power to take 
the necessary and legal steps for the redress of those 
grievances which we suffer by the arts and machina 
tions of ministers, and their minions here. What 
difference is there between the present state of this 
province, which in course will be the deplorable state 
of all America, and that of Rome, under the law be 
fore mention d ? The difference is only this, that they 
gave their formal consent to the change, which we 
have not yet done. But let us be upon our guard 
against even a negative submission ; for agreeable to 
the sentiments of a celebrated writer, who thoroughly 
understood his subject, if we are voluntarily silent, as 
the conspirators would have us to be, it will be con- 
sider d as an approbation of the change. " By the 
fundamental laws of England, the two houses of par 
liament in concert with the King, exercise the legisla 
tive power : But if the two houses should be so 
infatuated, as to resolve to suppress their powers, and 

i77i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 255 

invest the King with the full and absolute government, 
certainly the nation would not suffer it." And if a 
minister shall usurp the supreme and absolute govern 
ment of America, and set up his instructions as laws 
in the colonies, and their Governors shall be so weak 
or so wicked, as for the sake of keeping their places, 
to be made the instruments in putting them in execu 
tion, who will presume to say that the people have not 
a right, or that it is not their indispensible duty to God 
and their Country, by all rational means in their 
power to RESIST THEM. 

" Be firm, my friends, nor let UNMANLY SLOTH 
Twine round your hearts indissoluble chains. 
Ne er yet by force was freedom overcome. 
Unless CORRUPTION first dejects the pride, 
And guardian vigour of the free-born soul, 
All crude attempts of violence are vain. 

Determined, hold 

Your INDEPENDENCE; for, that once destroyed, 
Unfounded^ree&om is a morning dream." 

The liberties of our Country, the freedom of our 
civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards : 
And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. 
We have receiv d them as a fair Inheritance from our 
worthy Ancestors : They purchas d them for us with 
toil and danger and expence of treasure and blood ; 
and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. 
It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the 
present generation, enlightned as it is, if we should 
suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without 
a struggle ; or be cheated out of them by the 
artifices of false and designing men. Of the latter 

256 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

we are in most danger at present : Let us there 
fore be aware of it. Let us contemplate our fore 
fathers and posterity ; and resolve to maintain the 
rights bequeath d to us from the former, for the sake 
of the latter. Instead of sitting down satisfied with 
the efforts we have already made, which is the wish 
of our enemies, the necessity of the times, more than 
ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, 
fortitude and perseverance. Let us remember, that 
" if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, 
we encourage it, and involve others in our doom." It 
is a very serious consideration, which should deeply 
impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be 
the miserable sharers in the event. 



[Boston Gazette, October 28, 1771 ; the text is also in W. V. Wells, Life of 
Samuel Adams, vol. i., pp. 427-432.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

THE writer of the history of Massachusetts Bay 
tells us, that " our ancestors apprehended the acts of 
trade to be an invasion of the rights, liberties and 
properties of the subjects of his Majesty in the colony, 
they not being represented in parliament ; and accord 
ing to the usual sayings of the learned in the law, the 
laws of England were bounded within the four seas, 
and did not reach America. However, they made 
provision by an act of the colony, that they, i. e. the 

1 Attributed to Adams by Wells and by Bancroft, and also by the annotations 
of the Dorr file of the Gazette. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 257 

acts of trade should be strictly attended from time to 
time " -The passing of this law of the colony, and 
thus making it an act of their own legislature, he 
says, " plainly shows the wrong sense they had of the 
relation they stood in to England " And he further 
adds, that " tho their posterity have as high notions 
of English Liberties as they had, yet they are sensi 
ble that they are Colonists, and therefore subject to 
the controul of the parent state." As I am not dis 
posed to yield an implicit assent to any authority 
whatever, I should have been glad if this historian, 
since he thought proper to pronounce upon so impor 
tant a matter, had shown us what was the political re 
lation our ancestors stood in to England, and how 
far, if at all, their posterity are subject to the controul 
of the parent state. If he had vouchsafed to have 
done this, when he published his history, he 
would have rendered the greatest service both to 
Great-Britain and America, and eased the minds of 
multitudes who have been unsatisfied in points of 
such interesting importance. 

Mr. Locke, in his treatise on government discovers 
the weakness of this position, That every man is born 
a subject to his Prince, and therefore is under the per 
petual tie of subjection and allegiance ; and he shows 
that express consent alone, makes any one a member 
of any commonwealth. He holds that submission to 
the laws of any country, & living quietly & enjoying 
privileges & protection under them, does not make a 
man a member of that society, or a perpetual subject 
of that commonwealth, any more than it would make 
a man subject to another, in whose family he found it 

VOL. II. I/. 

258 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

convenient to abide for some time, tho while he con 
tinued under it, he were obliged to comply with the 
laws, and submit to the government he found there. 
Every man was born naturally free ; nothing can make 
a man a subject of any commonwealth, but his actually 
entering into it by positive engagement, and express 
promise & compact. 

If the sentiments of this great man are well 
grounded, our historian before he asserted so peremp 
torily that the ancestors of this country as colonists 
were subject to the controul of the parent state, should 
have first made it appear that by positive engagement, 
or express promise or contract, they had thus bound 

Every man being born free, says another distin 
guished writer, the son of a citizen, arrived at the 
years of discretion, may examine whether it be con 
venient for him to join in the society for which he was 
destined by birth*. If he finds that it will be no ad 
vantage for him to remain in it, he is at liberty to 
leave it, preserving as much as his new engagements 
will allow him, the love and gratitude he owes it. 1 
He further says, " There are cases in which a citizen 
has an absolute right to renounce his country, and 
abandon it for ever " ; which is widely different from 
the sentiment of the historian, that "allegiance is not 
local, but perpetual and unalienable " : And among 
other cases in which a citizen has this absolute right, 
he mentions that, when the sovereign, or the greater 
part of the nation will permit the exercise of only one 
religion in the state ; which was the case when our 

1 Mr. Vattel, law of nature and nations. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 259 

ancestors forsook their native country. They were 
denied the rights of conscience. They left it however 
with the consent of the nation : It is allowed by this 
historian that they departed the kingdom with the 
leave of their prince. They removed at their own 
expence and not the nation s, into a country claimed 
and possessed by independent princes, whose right to 
the lordship and dominion thereof has been acknow 
ledged by English kings ; and they fairly purchased 
the lands of the rightful owners, and settled them at 
their own and not the nation s expence. It is incum 
bent then upon this historian to show, by what rule of 
equity or right, unless they expressly consented to it, 
they became subject to the controul of the parent 
state. ^The obligation they had been under to sub 
mit to the government of the nation, by virtue of their 
enjoyment of lands which were under its jurisdiction, 
according to Mr. Locke, began and ended with the 
enjoyment. That was but a tacit consent to the gov 
ernment ; and when by donation, sale or otherwise, 
they quitted the possession of those lands, they were 
at liberty, unless it can be made to appear they were 
otherwise bound by positive engagement or express 
contract, to incorporate into any other commonwealth, 
or begin a new one in vacuis locis, in any part of the 
world they could find free and unpossessed. They 
entered into a compact, it is true, with the king of 
England, and upon certain conditions become his vol 
untary subjects, not his slaves. But did they enter 
into an express promise to be subject to the controul 
of the parent state ? What is there to show that they 
were any way bound to obey the acts of the British 

260 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

parliament, but those very acts themselves ? Is there 
any thing but the mere ipse dixit of an historian, who 
for ought any one can tell, design d to make a sacri 
fice to the ruling powers of Great-Britain, to show 
that the parent state might exercise the least controul 
over them as Colonists, any more than the English 
parliament could exercise controul over the dominions 
which the Kings formerly held in France, or than it 
can now over the inhabitants of the moon, if there be 
any ? 

By the charter of this province, the legislative power 
is in the Governor, who is appointed by the King, the 
Council and House of Representatives. The legisla 
tive of any commonwealth must be the supreme 
power. But if any edict or instruction of any body 
else, in what form soever conceiv d, or by what power 
soever backed, can have the force and obligation of a 
law in the province which has not its sanction from 
that legislative, it cannot be the supreme power. Its 
laws however salutary, are liable at any time to be 
abrogated at the pleasure of a superior power. No 
body can have a power to make laws over a free peo 
ple, but by their own consent, and by authority re- 
ceiv d from them : It follows then, either that the 
people of this province have consented & given au 
thority to the parent state to make laws over them, 
or that she has no such authority. No one I believe 
will pretend that the parent state receives any author 
ity from the people of this province to make laws for 
them, or that they have ever consented she should. 
If the people of this province are a part of the body 
politick of Great Britain, they have as such a right to be 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 261 

consulted in the making of all acts of the British parlia 
ment of what nature soever. If they are a separate 
body politick, and are free, they have a right equal to 
that of the people of Great Britain to make laws for 
themselves, and are no more than they, subject to the 
controul of any legislature but their own. " The law 
ful power of making laws to command whole politick 
societies of men, belongs so properly unto the same 
intire societies, that for any prince or potentate of 
what kind soever upon earth to exercise the same of 
himself, and not by express commission immediately 
and personally receiv d from God, or else from author 
ity deriv d at the first from their consent, upon whose 
persons they impose laws, is no better than mere 
tyranny. Laws therefore they are not which publick 
approbation hath not made so. 1 This was the reason 
given by our ancestors why they should not be bound 
by the acts of parliament, because not being repre 
sented in parliament, the publick approbation of the 
province had not made them laws. And this is the 
reason why their posterity do not hold themselves 
rightly oblig d to submit to the revenue acts now in 
being, because they never consented to them. The 
former, under their circumstances, thought it prudent 
to adopt the acts of trade, by passing a law of their 
own, and thus formally consenting that they should 
be observ d. But the latter I presume will never 
think it expedient to copy after their example. 

The historian tells his readers that " They (the peo 
ple of this province) humbly hope for all that tender 
ness and indulgence from a British parliament, which 

1 Hooker s Eccl. Pol. 

262 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

the Roman senate, while Rome remain d free, shewed 
to Roman colonies" Why the conduct of Rome 
towards her colonies should be recommended as an 
example to our parent state, rather than that of 
Greece, is difficult to conjecture, unless it was because 
as has been observed, the latter was more generous 
and a better mother to her colonies than the former. 
Be that as it may, the colonists have a right to expect 
from the parent state all possible tenderness ; not only 
as they sprang from her, and are subjects of the same 
King, but as they have greatly contributed to her 
wealth & grandeur : And we are willing to render to 
her respect and certain expressions of honor and 
reverence as the Grecian colonies did to the city from 
whence they deriv d their origin, as Grotius says, so 
long as the colonies were well treated. By our compact 
with our King, wherein is contained the rule of his 
government and the measure of our submission, we 
have all the liberties and immunities of Englishmen, 
to all intents, purposes and constructions whatever ; 
and no King of Great-Britain, were he inclin d, could 
have a right either with or without his parliament, to 
deprive us of those liberties They are originally from 
God and nature, recognized in the Charter, and en- 
tail d to us and our posterity : It is our duty there 
fore to contend for them whenever attempts are made 
to violate them. 

He also says that " the people of Ireland were un 
der the same mistake " with our ancestors ; that is, in 
thinking themselves exempt from the controul of 
English acts of parliament. But nothing drops from 
his pen to shew that this was a mistake, excepting 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 263 

that " particular persons in Ireland did pennance for 
advancing and adhering to those principles." The 
same mighty force of reasoning is used to prove that 
this colony was mistaken, viz. " They suffer d the 
loss of the charter." Such arguments may serve to 
evince the power of the parent state, but neither its 
wisdom nor justice appears from them. The sense of 
the nation however was very different after the revolu 
tion. The House of Commons voted the judgment 
against the Charter a Grievance ; and a bill was 
brought in and passed that house for restoring the 
Charters, among which that of this province was ex- 
presly mentioned ; notwithstanding the mistake above- 
mention d was one great article of charge against 
it. But the parliament was proroug d sooner than 
was expected, by reason of the King s going to Ire 

Our historian tells his readers by way of consola 
tion, that " it may serve as some excuse for our ances 
tors, but they were not alone in their mistaken 
apprehensions of the nature of their subjection " ; and 
he appears to be mighty glad that " so sensible a 
gentleman as Mr. Molineux, the friend of Mr. Locke, 
engag d in the cause ". But we want no excuse for 
any supposed mistakes of our ancestors. Let us first 
see it prov d that they were mistakes. Till then we 
must hold ourselves obliged to them for sentiments 
transmitted to us so worthy of their character, and so 
important to our security : And we shall esteem the 
arguments of so sensible, and it might justly be added, 
so learned a gentleman as Mr. Molineux, especially as 
they had the approbation of his friend Mr. Locke to 

264 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

be valid, while we see nothing to oppose them, but 
the unsupported opinion of Mr. Hutchinson. 



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text with- variations is in R. 
H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 184-187.] 

BOSTON Octob 31 1771. 


I Inclose a printed Copy of a Resolve of the Coun 
cil of this province, whereby Junius Americanus is 
censurd for asserting that the late Secretary Oliver 
stood recorded in the Councils Books as a perjurd 
traitor. You may easily suppose that the Friends of 
America for whom that Writer has been & is a firm 
& able Advocate, resent this Conduct of the Council 
whose Ingratitude to say nothing of the Injustice of 
this proceeding is the more extraordinary as Junius 
Americanus has taken so much pains to vindicate that 
very Body against the malignant Aspersions of Ber 
nard & others. There was however only Eight of 
twenty six Councellors present when they were pre- 
vaild upon by an artful man to pass this Resolve. 
You will see by the inclosd some remarks upon the 
former proceedings of the Council, or rather a recital 
of parts of them, by which I think it appears that the 
Assertion could not be groundless nor malicious ; nor 
can it be false if their own publication is true. I can 
conceive that the Design of the first mover of this 
Resolve was to injure the Credit of all the Writ 
ings of Junius Americanus, which I believe he very 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 265 

sensibly feels, & also to make it appear to the World 
that the Council, as they had before said of the 
House, had departed from & disavowd the Senti 
ments of former Assemblys ; and that this Change 
has been effected by the Influence of M r . Hutchinson. 
With Regard to the Council, it is hardly possible for 
any one at a distance to ascertain their political Sen 
timents from what they see of their determinations 
publishd here in general, for it has been the practice 
of the Governor to summon a general Council at the 
Time when the Assembly is sitting & of Course 
the whole Number of Councillors is present but in 
their Capacity of Advisers to the Governor they are 
adjournd from week to week during the Session of the 
Assembly & till it is over when the Country Gentle 
men Members of Council return home. Thus the 
general Council being kept alive by Adjournments, 
the principal & most important part of the Business 
of their executive department is done by seven or eight 
who live in & about the Town, & if the Governor can 
manage a Majority of so small a Number, Matters 
will be conducted according to his mind. I believe I 
may safely affirm that by far the greater Number of 
civil officers have been appointed at these adjourn 
ments ; so that it is much the same as if they were ap 
pointed solely by our ostensible Governor or rather 
by his Master, the Minister for the time being. You 
will not then be surprisd if I tell you that among 
the five Judges of our Superior Court of Justice, 
there are the following near Connections with the first 
& second in Station in the province. M r Lynde is 
Chiefe Justice ; his Daughter is married to the Son of 

266 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

M r Oliver, the L Gov r ; M r Oliver another of the 
Judges is his Brother ; his Son married Gov Hutch- 
insons Daughter; & Judge Hutchinson lately ap 
pointed, who is also Judge of the probate of Wills for 
the first County, an important department, is the 
Gov rs brother. Besides which the young M r Oliver 
is a Justice of the Common pleas for the County of 
Essex. M r Cotton a Brother in Law of the Gov r is 
deputy Secretary of the province & Register in the 
probate office under M r Hutchinson ; a cousin ger- 
man of the Gov r was sent for out of another province 
to fill up the place of Clerk to the Common pleas in 
this County ; & the eldest Son of the Gov r will prob 
ably soon be appointed a Justice of the same Court 
in the room of his Uncle advancd to the superior 
bench. I should have first mentiond that the Gov & 
the L Gov r are Brothers by Marriage. 

The House of Representatives, notwithstanding 
the Advantages which a new Governor always has in 
his hands I have reason to think will be so firm as at 
least not to give up any Right. The Body of the 
people are uneasy at the large Strides that are made 
& making towards an absolute Tyranny many are 
alarmd but are of different Sentiments with regard 
to the next step to be taken some indeed think 
that every Step has been taken but one & the ul 
tima Ratio would require prudence unanimity and 
fortitude. The Conspirators against our Liberties 
are employing all their Influence to divide the people, 
partly by intimidating them for which purpose a fleet of 
Ships lies within gun Shot of the Town & the Capital 
Fort within three miles of it is garrisond by the 

177 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 267 

Kings Troops, and partly by Arts & Intrigue ; by 
flattering those who are pleasd with Flattery ; form 
ing Connections with them, introducing Levity Lux 
ury & Indolence & assuring them that if they are 
quiet the Ministry will alter their Measures. I fear 
some of the Southern Colonies are taken with this 
Bait, for we see hardly anything in their publick 
papers but Advertisements of the Baubles of Britain 
for sale. This is the general Appearance of things \ 
here while the people are anxiously waiting for some 
happy Event from your side the Water for my own 
part I confess I have no great Expectations from 
thence, & have long been of Opinion that America 
herself under God must finally work out her own 

I have been told by a friend that a Manuscript has 
been sent from hence upon the Subject of the Tryals 
of Preston & the Soldiers, for your perusal entitled a 
Hue & Cry &c. Had I seen & thought it answer 
able to what I have heard of it, I should have en- 
deavord to have had it publishd here. I wish it 
had been or still might be publishd in London if you 
have seen it & think it worth while, subject entirely 
to your Correction and Amendment. But after all 
what will the best & most animating publications 
signify, if the many are willing to submit & be en- 
slavd by the few. 

I wrote you about a fortnight past by Capt. Hood 1 
& can add nothing more at present but that I am sin 

your friend & h bl serv* 

1 See above, page 230. 

268 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text is in W. V. Wells, Life 

of Samuel Adams, vol. i., pp. 342, 343.] 
T-\ T^ Nov 7 1771 


As you are just now setting out on the Journey of 
Life, give me leave to express to you my ardent Wish 
that you may meet with all that prosperity which 
shall be consistent with your real happiness. I can 
not but think you have a good prospect ; yet your 
path will in all probability be uneven : Sometimes 
you must expect like all other Travellers, to meet 
with Difficulties on the Road ; let me therefore recom 
mend to you the Advice of one of the Ancients, a 
Man of sterling Sense, tho a Heathen. " GEquam 
memento Rebus in arduis, servare mentem." In the 
busy Scenes of Life, you may now and then be dis- 
posd to drive on hard, & make rather too much haste 
to be rich ; you will then be upon your Guard against 
Temptations which if yielded to, will poison the 
Streams of all future Comfort : You will then in a 
more particular manner, impress upon your mind the 
advice of an inspired writer, to " maintain a Con 
science void of offence." I do not flatter you when I 
say, you have hitherto supported a good reputation : 
You will still preserve it unsullied ; remembering that 
a good name is your Life. 

[Boston Gazette, November n, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

WE read that " Jeroboam the Son of Nebat made 
Israel to sin" : For this he "stands recorded" and 

177 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 269 

repeatedly stigmatiz d, in the sacred volumn, as 
a "perjur d Traitor," and a Rebel against GOD and 
his Country. However mysterious fawning priests 
and flatterers may affect to think it, Kings and Gov 
ernors may be guilty of treason and rebellion : And 
they have in general in all ages and countries been 
more frequently guilty of it, than their subjects. 
Nay, what has been commonly called rebellion in the 
people, has often been nothing else but a manly & 
glorious struggle in opposition to the lawless power 
of rebellious Kings and Princes ; who being elevated 
above the rest of mankind, and paid by them only to 
be their protectors, have been taught by enthusiasts 
to believe they were authoriz d by GOD to enslave and 
butcher them ! It is not uncommon for men, by their 
own inattention and folly, to suffer those things 
which an all-gracious providence design d for their 
good, to become the greatest evils. If we look into 
the present state of the world, I believe this will hold 
good with regard to civil government in general : 
And the history of past ages will inform us, that 
even those civil institutions which have been best 
calculated for the safety and happiness of the people, 
have sooner or later degenerated into settled tyr 
anny; which can no more be called civil government, 
and is in fact upon some accounts a state much more 
to be deprecated than anarchy itself. It may be said 
of each, that it is a state of war : And it is beyond 
measure astonishing that free people can see the 
miseries of such a state approaching to them with 
large and hasty strides, and suffer themselves to be 
deluded by the artful insinuations of a man in 
power, and his indefatigable sychophants, into a full 

270 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

perswasion that their liberties are in no danger. May 
we not be allow d to adopt the language of scripture, 
and apply it upon so important a consideration ; that 
seeing, men will see and not perceive, and hearing, 
they will hear and not understand ? 

Jeroboam must needs have been a very wicked 
Governor : And he discover d so much of the ma 
lignancy of treason against his people, in making them 
to sin against the supreme Being upon whose power 
and protection the welfare of nations as well as in 
dividuals so manifestly depends, and by whose good 
ness that people in particular were so greatly oblig d, 
that one would have thought, they would upon a 
retrospect of their folly, in being thus seduc d, have 
testified to future generations their just resentment 
and indignation, by at least dethroning so impious a 
traitor. Perhaps they relented when they consider d 
that their Governor was "born and educated among 
them " : But this heightened his wickedness ; as it 
might have convinc d them, that he was as destitute 
of the common feelings of love for one s native 
country, as he was of religion and piety. This, and 
many other instances of later date may serve to show, 
that the people have no solid reason to depend upon 
every man that he will be a good Governor, merely 
because of his having had his birth and education 
among them ; as well as the folly and wickedness of 
priests and minions, who would from such a circum 
stance endeavor to dupe the people into a perswasion 
of their security under any man s administration. 
The sin which the people of Israel were prevailed 
upon by Jeroboam the son of Nebat to commit, re- 

i 7 7i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 271 

spected their religious worship on a Thanksgiving 
day : He had ordained a solemn festival to be kept 
at Bethel ; in which, it seems, he had a particular 
view to serve a political purpose : And the people 
knew it, although he had artfully endeavored to 
colour it with a plausible appearance. At this festival, 
through his influence, they sacrificed unto Calves \ 
This was the dire effect of their foolish adulation of 
their Governor, while they professed to observe a day 
set apart in honor to the King of kings. Their thanks 
giving began with prophaness & ended in idolatry, 
or rather it began & ended with both. There is no 
question but the priests were the vicegerents of the 
Governor, or his heralds to publish his impious proc 
lamations to the people. But is it not strange that the 
people were so king-ridden and priest-ridden, es 
pecially in matters which concern d their Religion, 
as to look upon ti\e joint authority of their Governor 
and Clergy, sufficient to justify them in sinning 
against the authority of God himself/ and in acting 
in open violation of his law, revealed to them from 
Heaven with signs and miracles at Mount Sinai^ and 
register d in their book of the law, as well as engrav d 
on the tables of their hearts ! It is no unusual thing 
for people to complement their Governors with the 
sacrifice of their consciences, after they have surren 
der d to them their civil liberty, which had been the 
folly of that people long before ; for they grew weary 
of their liberty in the days of Samuel the prophet, 
and exchanged that civil government which the wis 
dom of heaven had prescribed to them, for an absolute 
despotic monarchy ; that they might in that regard 

272 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

be like the nations round about them. Even in these 
enlightened times, the people in some parts of the 
world are so bewitched by the enchantments of priest 
craft and king-craft, as to believe that tho they sin 
against their own consciences, in compliance with the 
instruction of the one, or in obedience to the com 
mand of the other, they shall never suffer, but shall 
be rewarded in the world to come, for being so 
implicitly subject to the higher powers : And the 
experience of the world tells us that there are, and 
always have been various ways of rewarding them 
for it in this world. On the contrary, if they hesitate 
to declare a blind belief in the most palpable absurdi 
ties in government and religion, they are sure to fall 
into the immediate hands of spiritual inquisitors, to 
be whipped and tortured into an acknowledgment of 
the error, or threatened with the further pains of eter 
nal damnation if they persist in their contumacy. 

Thanks be to GOD, there is not yet so formidable 
a junction of the secular and ecclesiastical powers in 
this country ; and there is reason to hope there are 
but few of the clergy who would desire it. Yet such 
is the deplorable condition we are in, and so no 
torious is it to all, that should any man, be he who he 
may, tell me that our civil liberties were continued, or 
that our religious privileges were not in danger, I 
should detest him, if in his senses, as a perfidious 
man. And if any clergyman should in compliance 
with the humours or designs of a man in power, echo 
such a false declaration in the church of GOD, he 
would in my opinion do well seriously to consider, 
whether an excessive complaisance may not have 

177 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 273 

betrayed him into the sin of Ananias and Saphira, 
in lying against the Holy Ghost ! This is a most 
weighty consideration : But the times require plain 
dealing. We hope and believe, nay we know that 
there are more than seven thousand who will never 
bow the knee to Baal, or servilely submit to Tyranny, 
temporal or spiritual : But are we not fallen into an 
age when some even of the Clergy think it no shame 
to flatter the Idol ; and thereby to lay the people, as 
in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, under a 
temptation to commit great wickedness, and sin 
against God ? Let us beware of the poison of flat 
tery If the people are tainted with this folly, they ""1 
will never have VIRTUE enough to demand a restora 
tion of their liberties in the very face of a TYRANT, if 
the necessity of the times should call for so noble an ex- 
ertion. And how soon there may be such NECESSITY, 
GOD only knows. May \\, grant them FORTITUDE as j 
well as SOUND PRUDENCE in the day of TRIAL ! He 
who can flatter a despot, or be flattered by him, 
without feeling the remonstrances of his own mind 
against it, may be remarkable for the guise and ap 
pearance of sanctity, but he has very little if any true 
religion If he habitually allows himself in it, without 
any remorse, he is a hardened impenitent sinner 
against GOD and his COUNTRY. Whatever ^^profes 
sion may be, he is not fit to be trusted ; and when 
once discover d, he will never be trusted by any but 
fools and children. To complement a great man to 
the injury of truth and liberty, may be in the opin 
ion of a very degenerate age, the part of a polite 
and well-bred gentleman Wise men however will 

VOL. II. 18. 

274 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

denominate him a Traitor or a Fool. But how much 
more aggravated must be the folly and madness of 
those, who instead of worshipping GOD in the solemn 
assembly, " in spirit and in truth," can utter a lie TO 
HIM ! ! in order to render themselves acceptable to 
a man who is a worm or to the son of a man who is a 



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text with variations is in 
R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 187-189.] 

BOSTON Nov r 13 1771. 


Several Vessells have lately arrivd from London, 
but I have not had the pleasure of a Line from you 
by either of them. Since the Resolve of Council, by 
which Junius Americanus was so severely censurd, 
there has been a proclamation issued by the Gover 
nor with their Advice, for a general Thanksgiving 
which has been the practice of the Country at this 
time of the year from its first Settlement. The pious 
proclamation has given the greatest offence to the 
people in general, as it appears evidently to be calcu 
lated to serve the purpose of the British Adminis 
tration, rather than that of Religion. We were the 
last year called upon to thank the Almighty for the 
Blessings of the Administration of Government, in 
this Province, which many lookd upon as an impious 
Farce. Now we are demurely exhorted to render 
our hearty & humble Thanks to the same omniscient 
Being for the Continuance of our civil & religious 

i77i] SAMUEL ADAMS. 275 

Privileges & the Enlargement of our Trade. This I 
imagine was contrivd to try the feelings of the peo 
ple; and if the Governor could dupe the Clergy as 
he had the Council, & they the people, so that the 
proclamation should be read as usual in our Churches, 
he would have nothing to do but acquaint Lord Hills- 
borough that most certainly the people in General ac- 
quiescd in the measures of Government, since they 
had appealed even to God himself that notwithstand 
ing the faction & turbulence of a party, their Liberties 
were continued & their Trade enlargd. I am at a loss 
to say whether this measure was more insolent to the 
people or affrontive to the Majesty of Heaven, neither 
of whom however a modern Politician regards, if at 
all, so much as the Smiles of his noble Patron. But 
the people saw thro it in general, & openly declared 
that they would not hear the proclamation read. The 
Consequence was, that it was read in but two of all 
our Churches in this Town consisting of twelve besides 
three Episcopalian Churches ; there indeed it has not 
been customary ever to read them. Of those two 
Clergymen who read it, one of them being a Stranger 
in the province, & having been settled but about Six 
Weeks, performd the servile task a week before the 
usual Time when the people were not aware of it, 
they were however much disgusted at it. The Min 
ister of the other is a known Flatterer of the Gov 
ernor & is the very person who formd the fulsome 
Address of which I wrote you some time ago he was 
deserted by a great number of his Auditory in the 
midst of his reading. Thus every Art is practisd 
& every Tool employd to make it appear as if this 

276 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

people were easy in their Chains, & that this great 
revolution is brought about by the inimitable Address 
of M r Hutchinson. There is one part of the procla 
mation which I think deserves Notice on your side 
the Water, & that relates to the Accommodation with 
the Spaniards in the Affair of Faulkland Island. This 
must have been referrd to under the Terms of the 
preservation of the peace of Europe. From what I 
wrote you last you cannot wonder if the Governor 
carrys any thing he pleases in his Divan here. His 
last Manoevre has exposd him more than any thing. 
Ne lude cum sacris is a proverb. Should he once 
lose the Reputation which his friends have with the 
utmost pains been building for him among the Clergy 
for these thirty years past, as a consummate Saint, he 
must fall like Samson when his Locks were cut off. 
The people are determind to keep their Day of Fes 
tivity but not for all the purposes of the infamous 
proclamation. I beg you would omit no Opportunity 
of writing to me & be assured that I am in a Stile too 
much out of fashion 

Your Friend 


\_Boston Gazette, November 25, 1771.] 


Mucius SCAEVOLA, a writer whom I very much ad 
mire, tells us, " A Massachusetts Governor the King by 
Compact may nominate and appoint, but not pay : For 

1 Attributed to Adams in the Dorr file of the Gazette. 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 277 

his support he must stipulate with the people, & until 
he does, he is no legal Governor ; without this, if he 
undertakes to rule he is a USURPER."- -These senti 
ments have given great disgust to the Governor & 
Council, and the publisher, it is said, is to be prose 
cuted : But if he has spoken the words of truth and 
soberness, why should he be punished? Is there any 
man in the community that can procure harm in a 
process of law, to him who speaks necessary and im 
portant truths ? If there be such a man, mark him for 
a Tyrant. Is there any man whose publick conduct 
will not bear the scrutiny of truth ? he is a Traitor, 
and it is high time he was pointed out. ^ 

I have upon this occasion looked into the Charter 
of the province in which the COMPACT between the 
King and the people is contain d, and I find not a sin 
gle word about the King s paying his Governor. If 
therefore the Charter is altogether silent about it, 
Mucius is certainly to be justified in saying that by 
the compact the King may not p ay him ; that is, there 
is nothing in the Charter to warrant it. But it is 
asked, whether the King may not pay his Governor 
notwithstanding ? And ought it not to be looked 
upon as a mark of royal bounty and goodness, thus to 
save the people from being " burdened by a tax upon 
their polls and estates for a Governor s support ? " 
This is the Court language ; and great pains have 
been taken by some gentlemen, whose particular 
business it is to ride through the several counties, to 
spread it in every part of the province. But it has a 
tendency to mislead and ensnare. It no doubt sounds 
very agreeably in the ears of an unwary man, that by 

278 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

this ministerial manoeuvre, the province have a sav 
ing of a thousand pounds sterling every year, for the 
support of a Governor. Let us consider the matter a 
little. Did not our ancestors, when they accepted 
this Charter, understand that they had contracted for 
a free government ? And did not the King on his 
part intend that it should be so ? Was it not under 
stood, that by this contract every power of govern 
ment was to be under a check adequate to the 
importance of it, without which, according to the 
best reasoners on government, and the experience of 
mankind in all ages of the world, that power must be 
a tyranny f Undoubtedly it was the sense of both 
parties in the contract, that the government to be 
erected by the Charter, should be a free government, 
and that every power of it should be properly controuled 
in order to constitute it so. I would then ask, what 
weight remains in the scale of the democratick part of 
the constitution to check the monarchick in the hands 
of the governor, if the king has not only an uncon- 
troulable power to nominate and appoint a governor, 
but may pay him too ? If any one will point out to 
me a sufficient weight to balance the scale, I will differ 
from Mucius : But until that is done, I must be of 
his mind, that the king has no right to pay his gov 
ernor : " For that, he must stipulate with the peo 
ple ; " otherwise our civil constitution is rendered 
materially different from what the contracting parties 
intended it should be, viz. a free constitution. It 
places the governor in such a state of independency 
as must make any man formidable. It puts it in 
his power in many instances to act the tyrant, even 

I 7 yi] SAMUEL ADAMS. 279 

under the appearance of all the forms of the consti 
tution. The man who is possessed of a power to act 
the tyrant when he thinks proper, let him become 
possessed of it as he may, is at least an USURPER of 
power that cannot belong to him in any free state- 
Power is intoxicating : There have been few men, if 
any, w r ho when possessed of an unrestrained power, 
have not made a very bad use of it They have gen 
erally exercised such a power to the terror both of the 
good and the evil, and of the good more than the 
evil While a governor is possessed of a power with 
out any other check than that which the constitution 
has provided, upon a supposition that the king by 
charter may/tfj/ him as well as appoint him, for aught 
I can see, under such an administration as the present, 
I mean in England, he may make the people slaves as 
soon as he pleases and keep them so as long as 
he pleases. I have heard it asked, What ! may not 
the king make a present to his governor of fifteen 
hundred sterling every year, if he sees fit ? Is not his 
MAJESTY allowed to be upon a footing with even a 
private subject? This reasoning is very plausible, but 
I think not just. In some respects the king is more 
restrained than the lowest of his subjects. He may 
not for instance, turn a Roman Catholic, or marry 
one of that religion and hold his crown : He forfeits 
it by law if he does. And why ? Because it has been 
found that the Roman Catholic principles are incon 
sistent with the principles of the British constitution, 
which is the rule of his government. And there is the 
same reason why the governor who is appointed by 
the crown, should stipulate with the people for his 

2 8o THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

support, if that mutual check among the several pow 
ers of government, which is essential to every free 
constitution, is otherwise destroyed. If the king s 
paying or making yearly presents to his governor, 
renders him a different being in the state from that 
which the Charter intends he shall be, and that to the 
prejudice of the people, the king by the compact may 
not pay him, for in such a case, it would be inconsist 
ent with the principles of our constitution No king 
can have a right to put it in the power of his governor 
to become a tyrant, or govern arbitrarily ; for he can 
not be a tyrant or govern arbitrarily himself. 

I beg leave to make a supposition ; If his Holiness 
the Pope, for the sake of once more having a Catholic 
King seated on the British throne, should make him 
a present yearly of eight hundred thousand pounds 
sterling, for the support of himself and his household, 
it would be a great saving indeed to the nation ; but 
would the people, think you, consent to it because of 
that saving ? Should we not hear the faithful Com 
mons objecting to it as an innovation big with danger 
to the rights and liberties of the nation ? I believe it 
would be in vain to flatter them that their constitu 
ents would be eas d of a burden of a tax upon their 
polls and estates, by means which would render their 
king thus independent of them, and place him in a 
state of absolute dependance, for his support, upon 
another, who had especially for a long course of 
years, tried every art and machination t^roverthrow 
their constitution in church and state-^Would not 
the people justly think there would be danger that 
such a king thus dependent on the pope, and oblig d 

177 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 281 

by him, would be as subservient to the admonitions 
of his Holiness, or his Legate in his name, as a cer 
tain provincial governor, we know, has been to the in 
structions of a minister of state, upon the bare pros 
pect of his being made independent of the people for 
his support. ^ 


[Boston Gazette, December 2, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

No methods are yet left untried by the writers on 
the side of the ministry, to perswade this People that 
the best way to get rid of our Grievances is to submit 
to them. This was the artifice of Governor Bernard, 
and it is urg d with as much zeal as ever, under the 
administration of Governor Hutchinson. They would 
fain have us endure the loss of as many of our 
Rights and Liberties as an abandon d ministry shall 
see fit to wrest from us, without the least murmur : 
But when they find, that they cannot silence our com 
plaints, & sooth us into security they then tell us, 
that " much may be done for the publick interest 
by way of humble & dutiful representation, point 
ing out the hardships of certain measures"- -This is 
the language of Chronus in the last Massachusetts 
Gazette. But have we not already petition d the 
King for the Redress of our Grievances and the 
Restoration of our Liberties? have not the House 
of Representatives done it in the most dutiful 

282 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

terms imaginable ? Was it not many months be 
fore that Petition was suffer d to reach the royal 
hand ? And after it was laid before his Majesty, 
was he not advis d by his ministers to measures still 
more grevious and severe ? Have any lenient meas 
ures been the consequence of our humble repre 
sentations of "the hardship of certain measures," 
which were set forth by the house of assembly 
in the most decent and respectful letters to persons 
of high rank in the administration of government at 
home ? Did not the deputies of most of the towns 
and districts in this province met in Convention in 
the year 1 768, when Bernard had in a very extraor 
dinary manner dissolv d the General Assembly ? 
Did they not, I say, in the most humble terms, peti 
tion the Throne for the Redress of the intolerable 
grievances we then labor d under? Has not the 
Town of Boston most submissively represented " the 
hardship of certain measures " to their most gracious 
Sovereign, and petition d for Right and Relief ? 
Was not petitioning and humbly supplicating, the 
method constantly propos d by those very persons 
whom Chronus after the manner of his brethren, 
stiles " pretended patriots ", and constantly adopted 
till it was apparent that our petitions and representa 
tions were treated with neglect and contempt ? Till 
we found that even our petitioning was looked upon 
as factious, and the effects of it were the heaping 
Grievance upon Grievance? Have not the people 
of this province, after all their humble supplications, 
been falsly charg d with being " in a state of dis 
obedience to all law and government ? " And in 

177 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 283 

consequence of petitioning, has not the capital been 
filled with soldiers to quiet their murmurs with the 
bayonet ; & to murder, assassinate & plunder with 
impunity! Have we not borne for these seven 
years past such indignity as no free people ever 
suffer d before, and with no other tokens of resent 
ment on our part, than pointing out our hardships, 
and appealing to the common sense of mankind, 
after we had in vain petition d our most gracious 
Sovereign ? And now we are even insulted by those 
who have bro t on us all these difficulties, for uttering 
our just complaints in a publick Newspaper ! Point 
ing out the hardships of our sufferings, and calling 
upon the impartial world to judge between us and 
our oppressors, and protesting before God and man 
against innovations big with ruin to the public Liberty, 
is call d by this writer, " a stubborn opposition to 
public authority" and " a high hand opposition and 
repugnancy to government" For God s sake, what 
are we to expect from petitioning ? Have we any 
prospect in the way of humble and dutiful represen 
tation ? Let us advert to the nation of which this \ 
writer says we are a part. Are not they suffering the 
same grievances, under the same administration ? 
Have not they repeatedly petitioned and remon 
strated to the throne, and "pointed out the hard 
ships of certain measures," to the King himself? 
And has not his Majesty been advised by his minis 
ters, to treat them as imaginary grievances only ? 
And yet after all, against repeated facts, and common 
experience to the contrary, we are told, that " much 
might be done for the public interest, by way of 

284 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

humble and dutiful representation ! " If there were 
even now, any hopes that the King would hear us, 
while his present counsellors are near him, I should 
be by all means for petitioning again ; but every 
man of common observation will judge for himself 
of \^K. prospect. 

I am not of this writers opinion that the claims of 
our sister colonies, New-Hampshire and Rhode-Island, 
were so very reasonable, when disputes arose about 
the dividing lines ; nor do I believe any of his disinter 
ested readers will think his bare ipse dixit, however 
peremptory, a sufficient evidence of it. It seems in 
the estimation of Chronus and his few confederates, 
all are " intemperate patriots ", who will not yield the 
public rights to every demand, however unjust it may 
appear. Thus a whole General Assembly is branded 
by this writer, with the character of "wrong-headed 
politicians ", for not surrendering a part of the 
territory of this province to New-Hampshire and 
Rhode-Island, because they demanded it. It is no 
uncommon thing for those who are resolved to 
carry a favorite point, when they cannot reason with 
their opponents, to rail at them. I shall not take 
upon me at present to say, whether the claims of 
those governments were right or wrong ; but if the 
governor of the province, & a majority of the two 
houses, whom Chronus does not scruple to call "pre 
tended patriots ", then judged them to be wrong, their 
conduct in contending for the interest of the province, 
affords sufficient evidence, that they were real patri 
ots. These instances are bro t by Chronus 
to show the wisdom "of scorning the influence, and 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 285 

rejecting the rash and injudicious clamour of pre 
tended patriots, and wrong-headed politicians," in the 
present assembly ; who by their " indecent treatment 
of his Majesty s governor, are pressing him to comply 
with measures contrary to his instructions " : But if 
his Majesty s governor s instructions are repugnant 
to the Rights and Liberties of his Majesty s subjects 
of this province, and those who are elected by the 
people to be the guardians of their rights and liber 
ties, are really of that mind ; especially if they also 
think that such instructions are design d to have the 
force of laws ; is it reasonable or decent for Chronus, 
tho he may think differently, to call them mere pre 
tended patriots, which conveys the idea of false 
hearted men, for protesting against such instructions, 
as dangerous innovations, threatning the " very being 
of government ", as constituted by the Charter ? 
Chronus and his brethren would do well to consider, 
that "a high handed opposition and repugnance, 
( tis a wonder he did not in the style of his friend 
Bernard, call it oppugnation ) to government ", 
is as dangerous when level d at the representative 
body of the people, as at " his Majesty s Governor " : 
An attack upon the constitution especially in that 
silent manner in which it has of late been attacked, is* 
more dangerous than either. He says that those 
" wretched politicians ", " have made the Governor s 
subsistence to depend upon his compliance with 
measures contrary to his instructions." If this had 
been true, it would have been treating the Governor 
in a manner in which the British parliaments, when 
free, have treated their sovereign : No supplies till 

286 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

grievances are redressed, has been the language of 
those " wrong headed politicians ", the British house of 
commons in former, and better times, than these If 
the commons of this province have at any time with 
held their grant for the support of a governor, till he 
should comply with measures contrary to his instruc 
tions, they looking upon those instructions, as they 
have been, in fact, repugnant to the very spirit 
of the charter, and subversive of the liberty of their 
constituents, who can blame them ? They are in my 
opinion highly to be commended, for making use of 
a power vested in them, or rather reserv d by the 
constitution, & originally intended to check the 
wanton career of imperious governors A power, in 
the due exercise of which, even KINGS, their masters, 
have sometimes been brought to their senses, when 
they had any. But Chronus cannot show an instance 
of this conduct in the house of representatives for 
many years past, I dare say. It must therefore be a 
mistake in him to suppose that this conduct of " our 
intemperate patriots ", has " occasion d his Majesty to 
render him more independent, by taking the payment 
of his governor upon himself." I make no doubt 
but some other motive occasion d the minister to ad 
vise an independent governor in this province, which 
will in all probability take place in every colony 
throughout America. The motive is too obvious to 
need mentioning If Chronus will make it appear 
that a governor s being made independent of the 
people, is not repugnant to the principles of the 
charter of this province, or any free government, he 
will do more than I at present think he or any other 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 287 

can Till this is done, it is in vain to flatter a sensible 
people with the prospect of enjoying " peace, happi 
ness or any other blessing they have reason to 
desire," and right to expect from good government, 
while the measure is persisted in. 


{Boston Gazette, December 9, 1771.] 


"Whene er from putrid Courts foul Vapours rose, 

. with vigorous wholesome Gales 
The Winds of OPPOSITION fiercely blew, 
Which purg d and clear d the agitated State" 

IF the liberties of America are ever compleatly 
ruined, of which in my opinion there is now the ut 
most danger, it will in all probability be the conse 
quence of a mistaken notion of prudence, which leads 
men to acquiesce in measures of the most destructive 
tendency for the sake of present ease. When designs 
are form d to rase the very foundation of a free gov 
ernment, those few who are to erect their grandeur 
and fortunes upon the general ruin, will employ every 
art to sooth the devoted people into a state of indo 
lence, inattention and security, which is forever the 
fore-runner of slavery They are alarmed at nothing 
so much, as attempts to awaken the people to jealousy 
and watchfulness ; and it has been an old game played 
over and over again, to hold up the men who would 
rouse their fellow citizens and countrymen to a sense 

288 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

of their real danger, and spirit them to the most zeal 
ous activity in the use of all proper means for the 
preservation of the public liberty, as " pretended pa 
triots" "intemperate politicians" rash, hot-headed 
men, Incendiaries, wretched desperadoes, who, as was 
said of the best of men, would turn the world upside 
down, or have done it already. But he must have a 
small share of fortitude indeed, who is put out of 
countenance by hard speeches without sense and 
meaning, or affrighted from the path of duty by the 
rude language of Billingsgate For my own part, I 
smile contemptuously at such unmanly efforts : I 
would be glad to hear the reasoning i Chronus, if he 
has a capacity for it ; but I disregard his railing as I 
would the barking of a " Cur dog" . 

The dispassionate and rational Pennsylvania 
Farmer has told us, that " a perpetual jealousy re 
specting liberty, is absolutely requisite in all free 
states." The unhappy experience of the world has 
frequently manifested the truth of his observation. 
For want of this jealousy, the liberties of Spain were 
destroyed by what is called a vote of credit ; that is, 
a confidence placed in the King to raise money upon 
extraordinary emergencies, in the intervals of parlia 
ment. France afterwards fell into the same snare ; 
and England itself was in great danger of it, in the 
reign of Charles the second ; when a bill was brought 
into the house of commons to enable the King to 
raise what money he pleased upon extraordinary oc 
casions, as the dutch war was pretended to be And 
the scheme would doubtless have succeeded to the 
ruin of the national liberty, had it not been for the 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 289 

watchfulness of the "intemperate patriots", and 
" wrong-headed politicians" even of that day. 

How much better is the state of the American colo 
nies soon likely to be, than that of France and Spain ; 
or than Britain would have been in, if the Bill before 
mention d had pass d into an act ? Does it make any 
real difference whether one man has the sovereign 
disposal of the peoples purses, or five hundred ? Is 
it not as certain that the British parliament have as 
sumed to themselves the power of raising what money 
they please in the colonies upon all occasions, as it is, 
that the Kings of France and Spain exercise the same 
power over their subjects upon emergencies ? Those 
Kings by the way, being the sole judges when emer 
gencies happen, they generally create them as often 
as they want money. And what security have the 
colonies that the British parliament will not do the 
same ? It is dangerous to be silent, as the ministerial 
writers would have us to be, while such a claim is 
held up ; but much more to submit to it. Your very 
silence, my countrymen, may be construed a submis 
sion, and those who would perswade you to be quiet, 
intend to give it that turn. Will it be likely then that 
your enemies, who have exerted every nerve to estab 
lish a revenue, rais d by virtue of a supposed inherent 
right in the British parliament without your consent, 
will recede from the favorite plan, when they imagine 
it to be compleated by your submission f Or if they 
should repeal the obnoxious act, upon the terms of 
your submitting to the right, is it not to be appre 
hended that your own submission will be brought 
forth as a precedent in a future time, when your 



or THF. " 


2 9 o THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

watchful adversary shall have succeeded, and laid the 
most of you fast asleep in the bed of security and 
insensibility. Believe me, should the British parlia 
ment, which claims a right to tax you at discretion, 
ever be guided by a wicked and corrupt administra 
tion, and how near they are approaching to it, I will 
leave you to judge, you will then find one revenue act 
succeeding another, till the fatal influence shall ex 
tend to your own parliaments. Bribes and pensions 
will be as frequent here, as they are in the unhappy 
kingdom of Ireland, and you and your posterity will 
be made, by means of your own money, as subservient 
to the will of a British ministry, or an obsequious 
Governor, as the vassals of France are to that of their 
grand monarch. What will prevent this misery and 
infamy, but your being finally oblig d to have recourse 
to the ultima ratio \ But is it probable that you will 
ever make any manly efforts to recover your liberty, 
after you have been inur d, without any remorse, to 
contemplate yourselves as slaves ? Custom, says the 
Farmer, gradually reconciles us to objects even of 
dread and detestation. It reigns in nothing more ar 
bitrarily than in publick Affairs. When an act injuri 
ous to freedom has once been done, and the people 
bear it, the repetition of it is more likely to meet with 
submission. For as the mischief of the one was found 
to be tolerable, they will hope that the second will 
prove so too ; and they will not regard the infamy of 
the last, because they are stain d with that of the first. 
The beloved Patriot further observes, "In mixed 
governments, the very texture of their constitution 
demands a perpetual jealousy ; for the cautions with 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 291 

which power is distributed among the several orders, 
imply, that each has that share which is proper for 
the general welfare, and therefore that any further 
imposition must be pernicious . The government of 
this province, like that of Great Britain, of which it 
is said to be an epitome, is a mixed government. 
It s constitution is delicately framed ; and I believe 
all must acknowledge, that the power vested in the 
crown is full as great as is consistent with the 
general welfare. The King, by the charter, has 
the nomination and appointment of the governor : 
But no mention being therein made of his right to 
take the payment of his governor upon himself, it is 
fairly concluded that the people have reserv d that 
right to themselves, and the governor must stipulate 
with them for his support. That this was the sense 
of the contracting parties, appears from practice con 
temporary with the date of the charter itself, which is 
the best exposition of it ; and the same practice has 
been continued uninterruptedly to the present time- 
But the King now orders his support out of the 
American revenue : Chronus himself, acknowledges 
that he is thereby " render d more independent of 
the people." Consequently the balance of power if 
it was before even is by this means disadjusted. 
Here then is another great occasion of jealousy in the 
people. No reasonable man will deny that an undue 
proportion of power added to the monarchical part 
of the constitution, is as dangerous, as the same un 
due proportion would be, if added to the democratical. 
Should the people refuse to allow the governor the 
due exercise of the powers that are vested in him by 

292 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

the Charter, I dare say they would soon be told, and 
very justly, of " the mischief that would be the con 
sequence of it." And is there not the same reason 
why the people may and ought to speak freely & 
LOUDLY of the mischief which would be the conse 
quence of his being rendered more independent of 
them ; or which is in reality the same thing, his 
becoming possessed of more power than the charter 
vests him with ? For the annihilating a constitu 
tional check, in the people, which is necessary to 
prevent the Governor s exercise of exorbitant power, 
is in effect to enable him to exercise that exorbitant 
power, when he pleases, without controul. A Gov 
ernor legally appointed may usurp powers which do 
not belong to him : And it is ten to one but he 
will, if the people are not jealous and vigilant. 
Charles the first was legally appointed king : The 
doctrines advanced by the clergy in his father s 
infamous reign, led them both to believe that they 
were the LORD S anointed, and were not accountable 
for their conduct to the people. It is strange that 
kings seated on the English throne, should imbibe 
such opinions : But it is possible they were totally 
unacquainted with the history of their English pre 
decessors. Charles, by hearkening to the council of 
his evil ministers, which coincided with the principles 
of his education, and his natural temper, and con 
fiding in his corrupt judges, became an usurper of 
powers which he had no right to ; and exercising 
those powers, he became a Tyrant : But the end 
proved fatal to him, and afforded a solemn lesson for 
all succeeding usurpers and tyrants : His subjects 

177 1] SAMUEL ADAMS. 293 

who made him king, called him to account, dismiss d 
and PUNISH D him in a most exemplary manner ! 
Charles was obstinate in his temper, and thought of 
nothing so little as concessions of any kind : If he 
had been well advis d, he would have renounced his 
usurped powers : Every wise governor will relin 
quish a power which is not clearly constitutional, how 
ever inconsiderable those about him may perswade him 
to think it ; especially, if the people regard it as a PART 


TYRANNICAL DESIGNS. And the more tenacious he is 
of it, the stronger is the reason why " the SPIRIT OF 
APPREHENSION " should be kept up among them in its 



[Boston Gazette, December 16, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

I Profess to be more generous than to make severe 
remarks upon the apparent absurdities that run 
through the whole of Chronuss performance in the 
last Massachusetts-Gazette. He tells us that " he 
seldom examines political struggles that make their 
weekly appearance in the papers". If by this mode 
of expression he means to inform us, that he seldom 
reads the papers with impartiality and attention, as 
every one ought, who designs to make his own obser 
vations on them, I can easily believe him ; for it is 
evident in the piece now before me, that thro a want 

294 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

of such impartiality or due attention, to the political 
struggles which he examines, he mistakes one writer 
for another, and finds fault with Candidus for not 
vindicating what had been advanc d by Mutius Scae- 
vola. I am no party man, unless a firm attachment 
to the cause of Liberty and Truth will denominate 
one such : And if this be the judgment of those who 
have taken upon themselves the character of Friends 
to the Government, I am content to be in their sense 
of the word a party man, and will glory in it as long 
as I shall retain that small portion of understanding 
which GOD has been pleas d to bless me with. If at 
any time I venture to lay my own opinions before the 
public, which is the undoubted right of every one, I 
expect they will be treated, if worth any notice, with 
freedom and candor : But I do not think myself 
liable to be called to account by Chronus, or any 
one else, for not answering the objections they are 
pleased to make to what is offered by another man, 
and not by me. Whatever may be the opinion of 
Mr. Hutchinson, as a Usurper or a Tyrant or not, or 
as Governor or no Governor, if Chronus had fairly 
" examined the political struggles " which have ap 
peared in the papers, he must have known that I had 
not published my sentiments about the matter ; I shall 
do it however, as soon as I think proper. I would 
not willingly suppose that Chronus artfully intended 
to amuse his readers, and " mislead them to believe ", 
that his address to the publick of the 28th of Novem 
ber, was particularly applicable to me, as having ad 
vanced the doctrine which has given so much disgust 
to some gentlemen, and from whence he draws such 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 295 

a long string of terrible consequences. Whether 
the denying the governor s authority be right or 
wrong, or whether upon Mutiuss hypothesis it be 
vindicable or not, it is a " maxim" (to use his own 
word) upon which it no more concerned me to pass 
my judgment than it did any other man in the com 
munity. Had Chronus then a right to press me into 
this " political struggle," or to demand my opinion of 
what he had so sagely observed upon a subject which 
I had never engag d in ? Yes, by all means ; says he, 
" I pointed out some of the mischiefs that would in 
evitably follow upon denying the Governor s authority, 
if that maxim should be generally received " ; and 
adds, "what now has Candidus reply d to all this? 
Why truly nothing, but altum silentium" in Eng 
lish, a profound silence ; that is in the words of an 
honest Teague on another occasion " he answered and 
said nothing"- But notwithstanding the deep silence 
that I preserv d when I made my answer, it seems 
that " I assured him that the way of peaceable, duti 
ful and legal representations of our grievances had 
already been tried to no purpose " : With the most 
profound Taciturnity I "was pleas d most largely to 
expatiate upon this point ", & with all my " altum 
silentium " my " interrogations follow d one another 
with such amazing rapidity, that he (poor man) was 
almost out of breath in repeating them."- Here, gen 
tle reader, is presented to you a group of ideas in the 
chaste, the elegant style of CHRONUS, which required 
much more skill in the English language than I am a 
master of, to reduce to the level of common sense. 
Thus I have given you a short specimen of the taste 

296 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

of Chronus, who is said to be the top hand on the 
side of the ministry : For want of leisure I must 
omit taking notice of his " method of reasoning" till 

another time. 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

Dec br iS 17/1. 

This day I waited on M r Harrison Gray jun r to ac 
quaint him that I had been informd that he had told 
John Hancock Esq r that he heard me say in a threat- 
ning manner that M r Hancock might think as he 
pleasd, M r Otis had friends & his (M r Hancocks) 
treatment of M r Otis would prejudice his (M r Han 
cocks) Election. M r Gray declard to me that he did 
not hear me mention a Word of M r Hancocks Elec 
tion that a conversation happend between M r John 
Cotton & my self (M r Gray being present) relative to 
M r Otis that M r Cotton said M r Otis Conduct must 
be the Effect of Distraction or Drunkeness that I 
said I did not think so but that it rather proceeded 
from Irritation that he (M r Gray) said if M r Otis is 
distracted why should M r Hancock pursue him & 
that I answerd that M r Hancock might be stirred up 
by others to do it, but I thought he had better not or 
it was a pity he should. This M r Gray declared was 
all that I said relative to M r Hancock, in answer to 
his Question as is before mentiond & that it did not 
appear to him that I discoverd the least Unfriendliness 
towards M r Hancock. He further said he was willing 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 297 

to give his oath to the truth of this his declaration. 
Upon which I told M r Gray that it was far from my 
Intention to make M r Hancock displeasd with him, 
that I was satisfied that M r Hancock understood him 
differently & I should let Mr Hancock know what he 
now said, & asked him to repeat it which he did pre 
cisely as before & told me he was freely willing 
that I should repeat it to M r Hancock that if M r 
Hancock & myself desired it he would thus explain it 
in presense of us both. 

[Boston Gazette, December 23, 1771.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

The writer in the Massachusetts Gazette, who 
signs Chronus, in his address to the publick, recom 
mended petitioning and humbly representing the hard 
ship of certain measures ; and yet before he finished 
his first paper, he pointed out to us the unhappy ef 
fects in former times of the very method he had pre 
scribed. Those " intemperate patriots " it seems, the 
majority of both houses of the general assembly, not 
hearkning to the cool advice of the few wise men 
within and without doors, must needs make their 
humble representations to the King and Council 
upon the claims of New-Hampshire and Rhode- 
Island : And what was the consequence ? Why, he 
says the province lost ten times the value of the land 
in dispute. Did Chronus mean by this and such like 
instances, to enforce the measure which he had recom- 

298 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

mended ? They certainly afford a poor encourage 
ment for us to persevere in the way of petitioning and 
humble representation. But perhaps he will say, the 
General Assembly had at that time no reason to com 
plain of the incroachment of these sister colonies ; 
their claims were just ; and the discerning few who 
were in that mind were in the right. Just so he says 
is the case now. For he tells us that " no one has at 
tempted to infringe the peoples rights." Upon what 
principle then would he have us petition ? It is pos 
sible, for I would fain understand him, that what 
Candidus and others call an invasion of our rights, he 
may choose to denominate a Grievance ; for if we suf 
fer no Grievance, he can certainly have no reason to 
advise us to represent the hardship of certain meas-, 
ures. And I am the rather inclin d to think, that this 
is his particular humour, because I find that the stamp- 
act, which almost every one looked upon as a most 
violent infraction of our natural and constitutional 
rights, is called by this writer a Grievance. And he 
is so singular as to enquire, " What Liberties we are 
now deprived of," altho an act of parliament is still in 
being, and daily executed, very similar to the stamp-act, 
and form d for the very same purpose, viz. the raising 
and establishing a revenue in the colonies by virtue 
of a suppos d inherent right in the British parliament, 
where the colonies cannot be represented, and there 
fore without their consent. The exercise of such a 
power Chronus would have us consider as a Grievance 
indeed, but not by any means a deprivation of our 
rights and liberties, or even so much as the least 
infringement o them. Mr. Locke has often been 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 299 

quoted in the present dispute between Britain and 
her colonies, and very much to our purpose. His 
reasoning is so forcible, that no one has even at 
tempted to confute it. He holds that " the preserva 
tion of property is the end of government, and that 
for which men enter into society. It therefore neces 
sarily supposes and requires that the people should 
have property, without which they must be suppos d 
to lose that by entering into society, which was the end 
for which they enter d into it ; too gross an absurdity 
for any man to own. Men therefore in society having 
property, they have such a right to the goods, which 
by the law of the community are theirs, that no body 
hath the right to take any part of their subsistence 
from them without their consent : Without this, they 
could have no property at all. For I truly can have 
no property in that which another can by right 
take from me when he pleases, against my consent. 
Hence, says he, it is a mistake to think that the su 
preme power of any commonwealth can dispose of the 
estates of the subjects arbitrarily, or take any part of 
them at pleasure. The prince or senate can never 
have a power to take to themselves the whole or any 
part of the subjects property without their own con 
sent ; for this would be in effect to have no property at 
all."- -This is the reasoning of that great and good 
man. And is not our own case exactly described by 
him ? Hath not the British parliament made an act 
to take a part of our property against our consent^ 
Against our repeated submissive petitions and humble 
representations of the hardship of it ? Is not the act 
daily executed in every colony ? If therefore the 

300 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

preservation of property is the very end of govern 
ment, we are depriv d of that for which government 
itself is instituted. Tis true, says Mr. Locke, " Gov 
ernment cannot be supported without great charge ; 
and tis fit that every one who enjoys a share in the 
protection should pay his proportion for the mainte 
nance of it. But still it must be with their own con 
sent, given by themselves or their representatives." 
Chronus will not say that the monies that are every 
day paid at the custom-houses in America for the ex 
press purpose of maintaining all or any of the Gov 
ernors therein, were rais d with the consent of those 
who pay them, given by themselves or their repre 
sentatives " If any one, adds Mr. Locke, shall claim 
a power to lay and levy taxes on the people by his 
own authority & without such consent of the people, 
he thereby subverts the end of government"- Will 
Chronus tell us that the British parliament doth not 
claim authority to lay and levy such taxes, and doth 
not actually lay and levy them on the colonies without 
their consent? This is the case particularly in this 
province. If therefore it is a subversion of the end of 
government, it must be a subversion of our civil 
liberty, which is supported by civil government only./ 
And this I think a sufficient answer to a strange 
question which Chronus thinks it " not improper for 
our zealous Patriots to answer, viz. What those 
liberties and rights are of which we have been de 
prived. If Chronus is really as ignorant as he pre 
tends to be, of the present state of the colonies, their 
universal and just complaints of the most violent in 
fractions of their liberties, and their repeated petitions 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 301 

to the throne upon that account, I hope I shall be ex 
cused in taking up any room in your valuable paper, 
with a view of answering a question, which to him 
must be of the utmost importance. But if he is not, 
I think his question not only impertinent, but a gross 
affront to the understanding of the public. We have 
lost the constitutional right which the Commons of 
America in their several Assemblies have ever before 
possessed, of giving and granting their own money, as 
much of it as they please, and no more ; and appropri 
ating it for the support of their own government, for 
their own defence, and such other purposes as they 
please. The great Mr. Pitt, in his speech in par 
liament in favor of the repeal of the stamp-act, de 
clared that " we should have been slaves if we had not 
enjoy d this right." This is the sentiment of that 
patriotic member, and it is obvious to the common 
sense of every man. If the parliament have a right to 
take as much of our money as they please, they may 
take all. And what liberty can that man have, the 
produce of whose daily labour another has the right 
to take from him if he pleases, and which is similar to 
our case, takes a part of it to convince him that he has 
the power as well as the pretence of right ? That 
sage of the law Lord Camden declar d, in his speech 
upon the declaratory bill, that " his searches had more 
and more convinced him that the British parliament 
have no right to tax the Americans. Nor, said he, 
" is the doctrine new: It is as old as the constitution . 
Indeed, it is its support." The taking away this right 
must then be in the opinion of that great lawyer, the 
removal of the very support of the constitution, upon 

302 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

which all our civil liberties depend. He speaks in 
still stronger terms " Taxation and representation 
are inseparably united : This position is founded on 
the laws of nature : It is more : It is itself an 
eternal law of nature Whatever is a man s own is ab 
solutely his own ; and no man has a right to take it 
from him without his consent, either express d by him 
self or his representative Whoever attempts to do it, 
attempts an injury : Whoever does it, commits a 
ROBBERY: He throws down the distinction between 
liberty and slavery - - Can Chronus say, that the 
Americans ever consented either by themselves or their 
representatives, that the British parliament should tax 
them ? That they have taxed us we all know : We 
all feel it : I wish we felt it moresensrffy : They have 
therefore, according to the sentiments of the last men- 
tion d Nobleman, which are built on nature and com 
mon reason, thrown down the very distinction between 
liberty and slavery in America And yet this writer, 
like one just awoke from along dream, or, as I cannot 
help thinking there are good grounds to suspect, with 
a design to mislead his unwary readers (and unwary 
they must needs be, if they are thus misled,) to be 
lieve that all our liberties are perfectly secure, he calls 
upon us to show "which of our liberties we are de 
prived of; " and in the face of a whole continent, 
as well as of the best men in Europe, he has the 
effrontery to assert, without the least shadow of argu 
ment, that "no one has attempted to infringe them." 
One cannot after all this, be at a loss to conceive, 
what judgment to, form of his modesty, his under 
standing or sincerity. 

177 r] SAMUEL ADAMS. 303 

It might be easy to show that there are other in 
stances in which we are deprived of our liberties. I 
should think, a people would hardly be perswaded to 
believe that they were in the full enjoyment of their 
liberties, while their capital fortress is garrison d by 
troops over which they have no controul, and under 
the direction of an administration in whom, to say the 
least, they have no reason to place the smallest con 
fidence that they shall be employ d for their protec 
tion, and not as they have been for their destruction 
While they have a governor absolutely independent 
of them for his support, which support as well as his 
political being depends upon that same administration, 
tho at the expence of their own money taken from 
them against their consent While their governor acts 
not according to the dictates of his own judgment, as 
sisted by the constitutional advice of his council, if he 
thinks it necessary to call for it, but according to the 
edicts of such an administration Will it mend the 
matter that this governor, thus dependent upon the 
crown, is to be the judge of the legality of instructions 
and their consistency with the Charter, which is the 
constitution ? Or if their present governor should be 
possess d of as many angelic properties as we have 
heard of in the late addresses, can they enjoy that 
tranquility of mind arising from their sense of safety, 
which Montesquieu defines to be civil liberty, when 
they consider how precarious a person a provincial 
governor is," especially a good one ? And how likely a 
thing it is, if he is a good one, that another may soon 
be placed in his stead, possessed of the principles of 
the Devil, who for the sake of holding his commission 

304 THE WRITINGS OF [1771 

which is even now pleaded as a weighty motive, 
will execute to the full the orders of an abandon d 
minister, to the ruin of those liberties which we are 
told are now so secure Will a people be perswaded 
that their liberties are safe, while their representatives 
in general assembly, if they are ever to meet again, 
will be deprived of the most essential privilege of giv 
ing and granting what part of their own money they 
are yet allowed to give and grant, unless, in conform 
ity to a ministerial instruction to the governor, 
solemnly read to them for their direction, they ex 
empt the commissioners of the customs, or any other 
favorites or tools of the ministry, from their equitable 
share in the tax ? All these and many others that 
might be mention d, are the natural effects of that 
capital cause of complaint of all North- America, 
which, to use the language of those " intemperate pa 
triots ", the majority of the present assembly, is " a 
subjugation to as arbitrary a TRIBUTE as ever the 
Romans laid upon the Jews, or their other colonies " 
What now is the advice of Chronus ? Why, " much 
may be done, says he, by humble petitions and repre 
sentations of the hardship of certain measures " Ask 
him whether the colonies have not already done it ? 
Whether the assembly of this province, the conven 
tion, the town of Boston, have not petitioned and 
humbly represented the hardship of certain measures, 
and all to no purpose, and he tells you either that he 
is " a stranger to those petitions ", or " that they were 
not duly timed, or properly urged," or " that the true 
reason why ALL our petitions and representations met 
with no better success was, because they were ac- 

1771] SAMUEL ADAMS. 305 

companied with a conduct quite the reverse of that 
submission and duty which they seem d to express "- 
that " to present a petition with one hand, while the 
other is held up in a threatning posture to enforce it, 
is not the way to succeed "- Search for his meaning, 
and enquire when the threatning hand was held up, 
and you ll find him encountering the Resolves of the 
Town of Boston to maintain their Rights, (in which 
they copied after the patriotic Assemblies of the 
several Colonies) and their Instructions to their 
Representatives. Here is the sad source of all our 
difficulties. Chronus would have us petition, and 
humbly represent the hardships of certain measures, 
but we must by no means assert oitr Liberties. We 
must acknowledge, at. least tacitly, that the Parliament 
of Great Britain has a constitutional authority, " to 
throw down the distinction between Liberty and 
slavery " in America. We may indeed, humbly repre 
sent it as a hardship, but if they are resolved to ex 
ecute the purpose, we must submit to it, without the 
least intimation to posterity, that we look d upon it as 
unconstitutional or unjust. Such advice was sagely 
given to the Colonists a few years ago, at second 
hand, by one who had taken a trip to the great city, 
and grew wonderfully acquainted, as he said, with 
Lord Hillsborough ; but his foibles are now " buried 
under the mantle of chanty." Very different was his 
advice from that of another of infinitely greater abili 
ties, as well as experience in the public affairs of the 
nation, and the colonies : I mean Doctor Benjamin 
Franklin, the present agent of the House of Repre 
sentatives. His last letter to his constituents, as I 

VOL. II. 20. 

306 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

am well informed, strongly recommends the holding 
up our constitutional Rights, by frequent Resolves, 
&c. This we know will be obnoxious to those who 
are in the plan to enslave us : But remember my 
countrymen, it will be better to have your liberties 
wrested from you by force, than to have it said that 
you even implicitly surrendered them. 

I have something more to say to Chronus when 
leisure will admit of it. 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Jan 7 1772 


I wrote you soon after your departure from hence 
but am lately informd by M r F. Dana that you have 
not receivd my Letter ; he has put me in the way of 
a more sure direction under an Inclosure to Mess 
Trecothick & Apthorp. 

By our last Vessells from London we have an Ac 
count of the Choice of M r Nash for the Lord Mayor, 
& that he was brot in by ministerial Influence. It 
gives great Concern to the Friends of Liberty here 
that any Administration much more such as the pres 
ent appears to be, should have an Ascendency in the 
important Elections of that City, which has hereto 
fore by her Independency & Incorruption been the 
great Security of the Freedom of the nation. It is 

J Attorney-General of Rhode Island. The letter was addressed to Marchant 
at London, where he was acting as the agent of Rhode Island. He left Rhode 
Island in July, 1771, and returned in the autumn of 1772. Cf., Records of the 
Colony of Rhode Island, vol. vii., pp. 27-31, 197. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS, 307 

questionable however whether the Ministry would 
have gaind their point, if they had not according to 
the Machiavellian plan accomplishd a Division among 
those who profess to be Patriots. The same Art is 
now practicd by their Tools & Dependents on this 
side the Water. They have been endeavoring to ex 
cite a Jealousy among the Colonies, each one of the 
others, & in a great measure brought it about by the 
unfortunate failure of the Nonimportation Agreement. 
Perhaps every Colony was faulty in that matter in 
some degree but neither chose to take any of the 
Blame of it to its self, & to shift it off each cast the 
whole upon the others. The Truth is there were so 
many of the Merchants under the Court Influence in 
all of them as that they were able to defeat the plan, 
& for that Reason I was doubtful from the beginning 
of the Success of it. The Agents of the Ministry 
have since been trying to perswade the people to be 
lieve that they are sick of their measures & would be 
glad to recede, but cannot consistent with their own 
honor while the Colonies are clamoring against them 
they would therefore have us to be quite silent as 
tho we enjoyd our Rights & Liberties to the full, & 
trust that those who have discoverd the greatest per 
severance in every Measure to enslave us, will of their 
own Accord & without the least Necessity give up their 
Design. This soothing & dangerous Doctrine I fear 
has had an effect in some of the Colonies, but I am in 
hopes that those who have been ready to trust to the 
false promises of Courtiers begin to see through the 
Delusion. It was impossible that many persons could 
be catchd in such a Snare in this province, where 

3 o8 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

absolute Despotism appears to be continually making 
large Strides with barefaced Impudence. It will not 
be easy to convince this people that the Ministry have 
in their hearts any favor towards them, while they 
are taking their money out of their pockets, & appro 
priating it for the maintenance of a Governor who 
because of his absolute Dependence upon them will 
always yield obedience to their Instructions, and a 
standing Army in their Capital fortress, over which 
that Governor I presume to say dares not exercise 
any Authority, tho invested with it by the Charter, 
without express Leave from his Masters. Adminis 
tration must be strangely blind indeed, or they must 
think us the most foolish and ductile people under 
Heaven (in which they are greatly mistaken) to im 
agine that in such a Condition we are to be flatterd 
with hopes of any kind Disposition of theirs towards 
us. The Governor & other Friends to the Ministry 
or rather friends to themselves would fain have it 
thought in England, that the People in general are 
easy & contented or to use the Words of his Speech 
at the opening of the last Session, that they are re- 
turnd to Good order & Government ; l this may tend 
to establish him in his Seat as one who can carry the 
most favorite points but Nothing can afford greater 
Evidence to the Contrary than the general Contempt 
and Indignation with which his proclamation for an 
annual Thanksgiving was treated, because we were 
therein exhorted to return Thanks to Almighty God 
that " our religious & civil privileges were continued 
to us" & that " our Trade was enlargd" It is said 

1 May 30, 1771. Massachusetts State Papers, p. 300. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 309 

& I believe it to be a fact, that full two thirds of the 
congregational Clergy refusd to read the proclama 
tion, & perhaps not more of them than appeard the 
last Spring in favor [of] the pompous congratulatory 
Address, that is not a Sixth part of them took any 
notice of those Clauses in the religious Services of 
the day. It is for the Interest of the Crown Officers 
here who are dependent upon the Ministers to make 
them believe that they have by their Art & policy 
reconciled the people to their Measures, & if the 
Nation is so far misled as to believe so, the Ministry 
may avail themselves of it, but if the Contrary should 
happen to be true, as it appears to me to be, such 
Events may sooner than we are aware of it take place, 
as may afford the Nation Grounds to repent of her 
Credulity. It may be thought arrogant for an Ameri 
can thus to express himself, but let Britain consider 
that her own & her Colonies dependence is at present 
mutual which may not & probably will not be the 
Case in some hereafter. Why should either side 
hasten on the alarming Crisis. I am a friend to both, 
but I confess my friendship to the latter is the most 
ardent they have in time past and if by the severe 
treatment which the Colonies have receivd, Confi 
dence in the Mother Country is not in too great a 
Degree lost, they may still for some time to come 
administer to each others Happiness & Grandeur. 
This in my humble Opinion greatly depends upon a 
Change of Ministers & Measures which it is not in 
my power & I presume not in yours however earnestly 
we both may desire it, to accomplish. 

I wait in daily Expectation of a Letter from you. 

310 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 


[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp., 189-192 ; a draft is in the 
Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON, January i4th, 1772. 


Your latest letter to me is of the loth June, 1 since 
which I have several times written to you and have 
been impatiently waiting for your farther favours. 
I suppose by this time the parliament is sitting for 
the despatch of business, and we shall soon discover 
whether administration have had it in their hearts, as 
we have been flattered, to recede from their oppres 
sive measures, and repeal the obnoxious revenue 
acts. Is it not a strange mode of expression of late 
years made use of, that administration intends that 
this law shall be enacted, or that repealed ? It is 
language adapted to the infamy of the present times, 
by a nation which boasts of the freedom and inde 
pendency of her parliaments. I believe almost any 
of the American assemblies would highly resent such 
an imperious tone, even in the honoiirable board of 
commissioners of the customs, who I dare say think 
themselves equal in dignity, at least in proportion to 
the different countries, to his majesty s ministers of 
state. A Bostonian, I assure you, would blush with 
indignation to hear it said that his majesty s commis 
sioners of the customs (though perhaps they are of 
his excellency s privy council) had held a consultation 
at Butcher s Hall, upon the affairs of the province, 
and that they had come to a conclusion that the 

1 R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. i., pp. 215-219. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 311 

house of representatives should rescind their late 
protest against any doctrines which tend to give royal 
instructions to the governor, \heforce of laws. This 
protest it is said, his majesty s wise ministers were 
so hugely affronted at, as to alter their determination 
upon a question, in which the fate of the British 
nation was involved, namely, whether our general 
assembly should sit at Cambridge or in Boston. I 
confess this was a question of such astonishing im 
portance to the millions of Britons and their descend 
ants, and decided no doubt with such refined 
discrimination of judgment, that is not so much to 
be wondered at, if all national wisdom is to be 
ascribed to such a bed of counsellors, who seem to 
have possessed themselves of all national power. 
But as the circumstances of things may alter, and his 
majesty may be obliged through necessity to have 
recourse to men of common understanding, when 
these are gone to receive their just rewards in 
another life, would it not be most proper that the 
parliament should be at least the ostensive legislature, 
for there is danger in precedents, and in time to 
come the supreme power of the nation may be the 
dupes of a ministry, who may have no more under 
standing than themselves. It has been said that the 
king s ministers have for years past received momen 
tary hints respecting the fabrication of American 
revenue laws and other regulations, from some very 
wise heads on this side of the water, and particularly 
of this place ; and perhaps Great Britain may be 
more indebted to some Bostonians or residents in 
Boston than she may imagine, however reproachfully 

312 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

she may have spoken of them. Bernard publicly 
declared that he did not obtrude his advice on his 
majesty s ministers unasked; and therefore we may 
naturally conclude that my lord of Hillsborough, 
(sublime as his understanding is) the minister in the 
department, stood in need of and asked his advice, 
when the baronet journalized the necessary measures 
of administration for the colonies, which he retailed 
in weekly and sometimes daily letters to his lordship. 
On his departure he recommended Mr Hutchinson, 
though a Bostonian, " born and educated " as one 
upon whom his lordship might depend as much 
as upon himself ; and in this one thing I believe 
Bernard wrote the truth, for if they have not equal 
merit for their faithful services to administration, Mr. 
Hutchinson, I verily believe, has the greatest share. 
It is whispered here that the honourable board of 
commissioners have represented to administration 
that the present revenue is not sufficient to answer 
all demands, which are daily increasing, and there 
fore it will be necessary for their lordships to 
establish an additional fund. This is an important 
hint, which may relieve their lordships, unless a new 
manoeuvre should succeed, of which we have an 
account in the Boston Gazette enclosed. By a vessel 
just arrived from London, the friends of govern 
ment, as they call themselves, pretend that they have 
certain assurances from administration, that in three 
months we shall not be troubled with commissioners 
or standing armies. This, if we could depend upon 
court promises, would* afford an agreeable prospect. 
But the root of all our grievances is the parliament s 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 313 

taxing us, which they cannot do, but upon principles 
repugnant to and subversive of our constitution. If 
their lordships, the ministry, would be pleased to 
repeal the revenue acts, they would strike a blow at 
the root. 

The grand design of our adversaries is to lull us 
into security, and make us easy while the acts re 
main in force, which would prove fatal to us. 

I have written in great haste, and am sincerely 
your friend and humble servant, 

[Boston Gazette, January 20, 1772.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

IN the Massachusetts-Gazette of the Qth instant, 
Chronus attempts to prove that " the Parliament s lay 
ing duties upon trade, for the express purpose of rais 
ing a revenue, is not repugnant to and subversive of 
our constitution." In defence of this proposition, he 
proceeds to consider the nation as commercial, and 
from thence to show the necessity of laws for the 
regulation of trade. In the nation he includes Great- 
Britain and all the Colonies, and infers that these acts 
for the reflation of trade, u should extend to all 
the British dominions, to prevent one part of the 
national body from injuring another." And, says he, 
" If laws for the regulation of trade are necessary, who 
so proper to enact them, &c. as the British parlia 
ment, or to dispose of the fines & forfeitures arising 

314 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

from the breach of such acts ? " And then he tells us, 
that as a number of preventive officers will here 
upon become necessary, the parliament have thought 
proper to assign to his Majesty s revenue " the profits 
arising on the duties of importation for the payment 
of those officers ". This is Chronuss " method of 
reasoning ", to prove that because it is necessary that 
the parliament should enact laws for the regulation of 
trade, about which there has as yet been no dispute 
that I know of, and because it is proper that such 
preventive officers as shall be found needful to carry 
those laws into execution, should be paid out of the 
fines and forfeitures arising from the breach of them, 
Therefore, the parliament hath a right to make laws 
imposing duties or taxes, for the express purpose of 
raising a revenue in the colonies without their 
consent ; and that this is not (as is alledg d by our 
" Patriots ") " repugnant to or subversive of our con 
stitution ". Every one may easily see how Chronus 
evades the matter in dispute, and aims at amusing his 
readers according to his usual manner, by endeavour 
ing, and that without a shadow of argument, to prove 
one point, instead of another which is quite distinct 
from it, and which he ought to prove, but cannot. He 
is indeed sensible that his artifice is seen through ; that 
it will be urged that " he has evaded the chief diffi 
culties," and that " the objection doth not lie against 
the regulation of trade, but against the imposing 
duties for the express purpose of raising a revenue." 
And he is full ready to remove this objection. But 
how ? Why, by asking a question, which he often 
substitutes in the room of argument. Are we not, 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 315 

says he, " fellow-subjects with our brethren at home, 
and consequently bound to bear a part according to 
our ability, in supporting the honor & dignity of the 
crown ? " It is aliow d that we are the subjects of the 
same prince with our brethren at home, and are in 
duty bound, as far as we are able, to support the 
honor and dignity of our Sovereign, while he affords us 
his protection. But does Chronus from thence infer 
an obligation on us to yield obedience to the acts of 
the British parliament imposing taxes upon us with 
the express intention of raising a revenue, to be ap 
propriated for such purposes as that legislative thinks 
proper, without our consent ? O, says he, " there is 
good reason for this." What is the good reason ? 
Why " if we will not consent to do anything our 
selves ", " our money will be taken from us without 
our consent." This is conclusive argument indeed. 
And then he, as it were, imperceptibly glides into that 
which has ever appeared to be his favorite topick, 
however impertinent to the present point, viz. an in 
dependent support for the governor. He boldly 
affirms, what is a notorious untruth, that " we are 
unwilling to pay his Majesty s substitute in such a 
manner as should leave him that freedom and inde 
pendency which is necessary to his station, and with 
which he is vested by the constitution : " And there 
fore the parliament hath a right to enable his Majesty 
to pay his substitute, out of a revenue extorted from 
us against our consent. If his premises were well 
grounded, his conclusion would not follow : And the 
question would still remain, to which Chronus has not 
attempted to give any rational answer, namely, By 

316 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

what authority doth the parliament these things, and 
who gave them this authority ? Thus we still con 
tinue to dispute the authority of the parliament to lay 
duties and taxes upon us, with the express purpose of 
raising a revenue, as " repugnant to, and subversive 
of our constitution ; " and for a reason which I dare 
say Chronus will never get over, namely, because as 
he himself allows, " we are not represented in it"- 

The English constitution, says Baron Montesquieu, 
has Liberty for its direct object : And the constitu 
tion of this province, as our own historian, 1 informs 
us, is an epitome of the British constitution ; and it 
undoubtedly has the same end for its object : What 
ever laws therefore are made for our government, 
either in a manner, or for purposes subversive of 
Liberty, must be subversive of the end of the consti 
tution, and consequently of the constitution itself. 
No free people, as the Pennsylvania Farmer has ob 
served, ever existed, or ever can exist without, to use 
a common but strong expression, keeping the purse- 
strings in their hands : But the parliament s laying 
taxes on the Colonies for the express purpose of rais 
ing a revenue, takes the purse strings out of their 
hands, and consequently it is " repugnant to, and sub 
versive of (the end of) our constitution " Liberty. 
Mr. Locke says, that the security of property is the 
end for which men enter into society ; and I believe 
Chronus will not deny it : Whatever laws therefore 
are made in any society, tending to render property 
insecure, must be subversive of the end for which 
men prefer society to the state of nature ; and conse- 

1 Mr. Hutchinson. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 317 

quently must be subversive of society itself : But the 
parliament in which the Colonies have no voice, tak 
ing as much of their money as it pleases, and appro 
priating it to such purposes as it pleases, even against 
their consent, and as they think repugnant to their 
safety, renders all their property precarious, and there 
fore it is subversive of the end for which men enter 
into society and repugnant to every free constitution. 
Mr. Hooker in his ecclesiastical polity, as quoted 
by Mr. Locke, affirms that " Laws they are not, which 
Republic approbation hath not made so." This seems 
to be the language of nature and common sense ; for 
if the public are bound to yield obedience to the laws, 
to which they cannot give their approbation, they are 
slaves to those who make such laws and enforce 
them : But the acts of parliament imposing duties, 
with the express purpose of raising a revenue in the 
colonies, have received every mark of the public dis 
approbation in every colony ; and yet they are en 
forced in all, and in some with the utmost rigour./ 
The British constitution having liberty for its object, 
is so framed, as that every man who is to be bound 
by any law about to be made, may be present by his 
representative in parliament, who may employ the 
whole force of his objections against it, if he cannot 
approve of it : If after fair debate, it is approv d of 
by the majority of the whole representative body of 
the nation, the minority, by a rule essential in society, 
and without which it could not subsist, is bound to 
submit to it : But the colonies had no voice in parlia 
ment when the revenue acts were made ; nay, though 
they had no representatives there, their petitions were 

3 i8 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

rejected, because they were against duties to be laid 
on ; and they have been called factious, for the objec 
tions they made, not only against their being taxed 
without their consent, which was a sufficient objection, 
but against the appropriation of the money when 
rais d to purposes which as the Farmer has made to 
appear, will supersede the authority in our respective 
assemblies, which is most essential to liberty. Repre 
sentation and Legislation, as well as taxation, are 
inseparable, according to the spirit of our constitu 
tion ; and of all others that are free. Human fore 
sight is incapable of providing against every accident. 
A small part of the nation may be " at sea, as Chronus 
tells us, when writs are issued out for the election of 
members of parliament " ; and to admit that they, 
after their return " should be exempt from any acts 
of parliament, the members of which were chosen in 
their absence ", would be attended with greater evil 
to the community, the safety and welfare of which is 
the end of all legislation, than the misfortune of their 


voluntary absence, if it should prove one, could be to 
them. I say, if it should prove a misfortune to them ; 
for those acts being made by the consent of repre 
sentatives chosen by all the rest of the nation, it is 
presum d they are calculated for the good of the whole, 
of which they, as a part, must necessarily partake : 
But the supposed case of these persons is far different 
from that of the colonists ; who are, not by a volun 
tary choice of their own, but through necessity, not by 
mere accident, but by means of the local distance of 
their constant residence, excluded from being present 
by representation in the British legislature. Chronus 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 319 

allows that by means of their distance, "they are be 
come incapable of exercising their original right of 
choosing representatives for the British parliament" 
If so, they cannot without subversion of the end of 
the British constitution, be bound to obedience, 
against their own consent, to such laws as are there 
made ; especially such laws as tend to render precari 
ous their property, the security of which is the end of 
men s entering into society. If they are thus bound, 
they are slaves and not free men : But slavery must 
certainly be " repugnant to the constitution " which 
has liberty for its direct object. If the supreme legis 
lative of Great Britain, cannot consistently with the 
British constitution or the essential liberty of the 
colonies, make laws binding upon them, and Chronus 
for ought I can see, has not attempted to make it 
rationally appear that it can, it is dangerous for the 
colonies to admit any of its laws. For however up 
right some may think the present parliament to be, in 
intention, they may ruin us through mistake arising 
from an incurable ignorance of our circumstances ; 
and though Chronus may be so singular as to judge 
the present revenue acts of parliament binding upon 
the colonies, to be salutary, the time may perhaps 
come, when even he may be convinced, that future ones 
may be oppressive and tyrannical, not only in their 
execution, but in the very intention of those that 
may make them. 

Chronus says, that " he has all along taken it 
for granted, that the kingdom and the colonies are 
one dominion." If so he must allow the colonies 
to take it for granted that they have an equal share 

320 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

with the inhabitants of Britain in the rights belonging 
to this one dominion, and particularly in the cardinal 
right of being represented in the supreme legisla 
ture. But that right, he says, they are " incapable of 
exercising," by reason of their distance. We all agree 
in this, and it is not their fault ? Why then should 
they not have the right of legislating for themselves, as 
well as that other part of this one dominion f Why 
truly, we have " a right of choosing an assembly, 
which with the concurrence of his Majesty s Gov 
ernor, hath a power of enacting local statutes, estab 
lishing taxes, &c. Yet still in subordination to 
the general laws of the empire, reserving the full 
right of supremacy & dominion, which are in them 
selves unalienable" If I understand his meaning 
in this dark expression, it is this, we have a right 
of choosing an assembly, but this assembly is con- 
troulable in all its acts, by another assembly which 
we have no right to choose, and which has this right 
of controul in itself unalienable. But the question 
still recurs, How came this right to be in the British 
parliament? Chronus says that " admitting that we 
are all one dominion, there is, and must be, a supreme, 
irresistible, absolute, uncontrouled authority, in which 
must reside the power of making and establishing 
laws," " and all others must conform to it, and he gov 
ern d by it ". But if we are all one dominion ; or if I 
understand him, the members of one state, tho so re 
motely situated, the kingdom from the Colonies, as 
that we cannot all partake of the rights of the su 
preme Legislature, why may not this " irresistible, ab 
solute, uncontrouled," and controuling " authority, in 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 321 

which the jura summi imperii, or the rights of the 
government reside", be established in America, or in 
Ireland, as well as in Britain. Is there any thing in 
natiire, or has Ireland or America consented that the 
part of this one dominion called Britain shall be thus 
distinguished! Or are we to infer her authority 
from her power ? But it must be, and Chronus gives 
us no other reason for it than his bare affirmation, 
that " the King, Lords and Commons of Great-Britain 
form the supreme Legislature of the British domin 
ions". And he adds, " to say that each of the 
Colonies had within itself a supreme independent 
Legislature, and that nevertheless the kingdom and 
the Colonies are all one dominion, is a solecism : " 
Let him then view the Kingdom and the Colonies in 
another light, and see whether there will be a solecism 
in considering them as more dominions than one, 
or separate states. It is certainly more concordant 
with the great law of nature and reason, which the 
most powerful nation may not violate and cannot 
alter, to suppose that the Colonies are separate inde 
pendent and free, than to suppose that they must be 
one with Great-Britain and slaves. And slaves they 
must be, notwithstanding all which Chronus has said 
to the contrary, if Great Britain may make all laws 
whatsoever binding upon them, especially laws to 
take from them what portions of their property she 
pleases, without and against their consent. 

I shall make further remarks upon Chronus, when 
I shall be at leisure. 


322 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 


[Boston Gazette, January 27, 1772; a complete draft of this article is in the 
Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

I have observed from Baron Montesquieu, that the 
British constitution has liberty for its direct object ; 
and that the constitution of this province, according 
to Mr. Hutchinson, is an epitome of the British con 
stitution : That the right of representation in the 
body that legislates, is essential to the British consti 
tution, without which there cannot be liberty ; and 
Chronus himself acknowledges, that the Americans 
are "incapable of exercising this right": Let him 
draw what conclusion he pleases. All I insist upon 
is, that the conclusion cannot be just, that " the par 
liament s laying duties upon trade with the express 
purpose of raising a revenue, is not repugnant to or 
subversive of our constitution." This doctrine, tho 
long exploded by the best writers on both sides of the 
atlantic, he now urges ; and he is reduced to this 
necessity, in order to justify or give coloring to his 
frequent bold assertions, that " no one has attempted 
even to infringe our liberties," and to his ungenerous 
reflections upon those who declare themselves of 
a different mind, as " pretended patriots," " over- 
zealous," " intemperate politicians," " men of no 
property," who "expect to find their account" in 
perpetually keeping up the ball of contention. But 
after all that Chronus and his associates have said, 
or can say, the people of America have just 
" grounds still to complain " that their rights are vio- 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 323 

lated. There seems to be a system of " tyranny and 
oppression " already begun. It is therefore the duty 
of every honest man, to alarm his fellow-citizens and 
countrymen, and awaken in them the utmost vigi 
lance and circumspection. Jealousy, especially at such 
a time, is a political virtue : Nay, I will say, it is a 
moral virtue ; for we are under all obligations to do 
what in us lies to save our country. " Tyrants alone, 
says the great Vatei, will treat as seditious, those 
brave and resolute citizens, who exhort the people to 
preserve themselves from oppression, in vindication 
of their rights and privileges : A good prince, says 

he, will commend such virtuoiis patriots " and 

will " mistrust the selfish suggestions of a minister, 
who represents to him as rebels, all those citizens who 
do not hold out their hands to chains, who refuse 
tamely to suffer the strokes of arbitrary power." 

I cannot help observing how artfully Chronus ex 
presses his position, that the " parliament s laying 
duties ^tpon trade with the express purpose of raising 
a revenue, is not repugnant to our constitution." It 
has not been made a question, that I know of, 
whether the parliament hath a right to make laws for 
the regulation of the trade of the colonies. Power 
she undoubtedly has to enforce her acts of trade : 
And the strongest maritime power caeteris paribus, 
will always make the most advantageous treaties, 
and give laws of trade to other nations, for whom 
there can be no pretence to the right of legislation. 
The matter however should be considered equitably, 
if it should ever be considered at all : If the trade of 
the Colonies is protected by the British navy, there 

324 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

may possibly be from thence inferr d a just right in 
the parliament of Great Britain to restrain them from 
carrying on their trade to the injury of the trade of 
Great Britain. But this being granted, it is very dif 
ferent from the right to make laws in all cases what 
ever binding upon the Colonies, and especially for 
laying duties upon trade for the express purpose of 
raising a revenue. In the one case it may be the 
wisdom of the Colonies, under present circumstances 
to acquiesce in reasonable restrictions, rather than lose 
their whole trade by means of the depredations of a 
foreign power : In the other, it is a duty they owe 
themselves and their posterity, by no means to ac 
quiesce ; because it involves them in a state of perfect 
slavery. I say perfect slavery : For, as political 
liberty in its perfection consists in the people s con 
senting by themselves or their representatives, to all 
laws which they are bound to obey, so perfect political 
slavery consists in their being bound to obey any laws 
for taxing them, to which they cannot consent. If 
a people can be deprived of their property by an 
other person or nation, it is evident that such a peo 
ple cannot be free. Whether it be by a nation or a 
monarch, is not material : The masters indeed are 
different, but the government is equally despotic ; and 
tho the despotism may be mild, from principles of 
policy, it is not the less a despotism. 

Chronus talks of Magna Charta as though it were 
of no greater consequence than an act of parliament 
for the establishment of a corporation of button- 
makers. Whatever low ideas he may entertain of 
that Great Charter, and such ideas he must entertain 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 325 

of it to support the cause he hath espous d, it is 
affirm d by Lord Coke, to be declaratory of the prin 
cipal grounds of the fundamental laws and liberties of 
England. "It is called Chart a Liber tatum Regni, 
the Charter of the Liberties of the kingdom, upon 
great reason, says that sage of the law, because 
liber os facit, it makes and preserves the people free" 
Those therefore who would make the people slaves, 
would fain have them look upon this charter, in a 
light of indifference, which so often affirms sua jura, 
suas libertates, their own rights, their own liberties : 
But if it be declaratory of the principal grounds of the 
fundamental laws and liberties of England, it cannot 
be altered in any of its essential parts, without alter 
ing the constitution. Whatever Chronus may have 
adopted from Mr. Hume, Vatel tells us plainly and 
without hesitation, that " the supreme legislative can 
not change the constitution," " that their authority 
does not extend so far," & "that they ought to con 
sider the fundamental laws as sacred, if the nation 
has not, in very express terms, given them power to 
change them." And he gives a reason for it solid 
and weighty ; for, says he, " the constitution of the 
state ought to be fixed" Mr. Hume, as quoted by 
Chronus, says, the only rule of government is the 
established practice of the age, upon maxims univer 
sally assented to. If then any deviation is made from 
the maxims upon which the established practice of the 
age is founded, it must be by universal assent. " The 
fundamental laws," says Vatel, " are excepted from 
their (legislators) commission," " nothing leads us to 
think that the nation was willing to submit the cons ft- 

326 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

tution itself to their pleasure." " They derive their 
authority from the constitution, how then can they 
change it without destroying the foundation of their 
own authority ? " If then according to Lord Coke, 
Magna Charta is declaratory of the principal grounds 
of the fundamental laws and liberties of the people, 
and Vatel is right in his opinion, that the supreme 
legislative cannot change the constitution, I think it 
follows, whether Lord Coke has expressly asserted it 
or not, that an act of parliament made against Magna 
Charta in violation of its essential parts, is void. " By 
the fundamental laws of England, says Vatel, the two 
houses of parliament in concert with the King, exer 
cise the legislative power : But if the two houses 
should resolve to suppress themselves, and to invest 
the King with the full and absolute government, cer 
tainly the nation would not suffer it" although it was 
done by a solemn act of parliament. But such doc 
trine is directly the reverse of that which Chronus 
holds ; which amounts to this, that if the two houses 
should give up to the King, any, the most essential 
rights of the people declared in Magna Charta, the 
nation has not a power either de jura or de facto to 
prevent it. I may hereafter quote for his serious 
perusal, the reasoning of the immortal Locke upon 
this important subject, and am, in the mean time, 



1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 327 


{Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 315, 316 ; a draft, is in the Samuel Adams 
Papers, Lenox Library.] 

May it please your Excellency. 

The House of Representatives have duly consid 
ered your speech * to both Houses, at the opening 
of this session. Your Excellency is pleased to ac 
quaint us, that, " if we had desired you to carry the 
Court to Boston, because it is the most convenient 
place ; and the prerogative of the Crown to instruct 
the Governor to convene the Court at such place as 
his Majesty may think proper, had not been denied ; 
you should have obtained leave to meet us in Boston, 
at this time ; but that you shall not be at liberty to 
do so, whilst this denial is persisted in. " 

We have maturely considered this point ; and are 
still firmly in opinion, that such instruction is re 
pugnant to the royal charter, wherein the Governor 
is vested with the full power of adjournment, pro 
roguing and dissolving the General Assembly, as he 
shall judge necessary. Nothing in the charter, ap 
pears to us to afford the least grounds to conclude, 
that a right is reserved to his Majesty of controling 
the Governor, in thus exercising this full power. Nor 
indeed does it seem reasonable that there should ; 
for, it being impossible that any one, at the distance 
of three thousand miles, should be able to foresee the 

1 The original message of Governor Hutchinson of April 8, 1772, is among 
the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library, and on it is endorsed, in the hand 
writing of Adams, the fourth paragraph of the following reply. 

3 Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 313-315. 

328 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

most convenient time or place of holding the Assem 
bly, it is necessary that such discretionary power 
should be lodged with the Governor, who is, by 
Charter, constantly to reside within the Province. 

We are still earnestly desirous of the removal of 
this Assembly to the Court House, in Boston ; and 
we are sorry that your Excellency s determination 
thereon, depends upon our disavowing these prin 
ciples ; because we cannot do it consistently with the 
duty we owe our constituents. We are constrained 
to be explicit at this time ; for if we should be silent, 
after your Excellency has recommended it to us, as 
a necessary preliminary, to desist from saying any 
thing upon this head, while we request your Excel 
lency for a removal of the Assembly, for reasons of 
convenience only, it might be construed as tacitly 
conceding to a doctrine injurious to the constitution, 
and in effect, as rescinding our own record, of which 
we still deliberately approve. 

The power of adjourning and proroguing the Gen 
eral Assembly, is a power in trust, to be exercised 
for the good of the province ; this House have a 
right to judge for themselves, whether it was thus ex 
ercised. We cannot avoid taking this occasion, freely 
to declare to your Excellency, that the holding of 
the Assembly in this place, without any good reason 
which we can conceive of, under the many and great 
inconveniences which this, and former Houses, have 
so fully set forth to your Excellency, is, in our 
opinion, an undue exercise of power ; and a very 
great grievance, which we still hope will soon be 
fully redressed. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 329 

Your Excellency may be assured, that this House 
will, with all convenient despatch, take into our most 
serious consideration, that part of your speech which 
concerns the establishment of a partition line between 
this province and the province of New York ; and 
that we will, with great candor, contribute every 
thing in our power, to accomplish the same equitable 

The other parts of your Excellency s speech, have 
had the proper attention of the House ; and we are 
determined, during the remainder of the session, 
which must be short, to consult his Majesty s real 
service the true interest of the province. 

[Boston Gazette, April 20, 1772.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

Philanthrop Jun. in Draper s paper of the 
current tells us, that " For four or five years together 
nobody could appear in print unless he was a favourer 
of what is call d Liberty," and therefore concludes, 
" Falshood has been imposed on the credulous readers 
of News-papers, and has spread through the country 
for truth, because no one would contradict it." What 
fortitude must a man be possess d of that can offer 
two such sentences to the eye of the public in a paper 
which for that space has contained nothing else in 
the political way ? Again, why have we a mark of dis 
tinction in the signature ? Was Philanthrop senior 

330 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

a liberty writer ? Was the True Patriot a liberty 
writer ? Were all the scribblers in Mein s Chronicle 
friends or favourers of what is called liberty ? Blush ! 
reformer blush at imposition of so gross a kind ! 

But what are the falshoods these credulous people 
have been led to believe ? Why it seems that men 
from Lancaster and elsewhere, have been insinuating 
that we laboured under grievances in commerce, legis 
lation, and execution of the wholesome laws of the 
land, when no such thing has been seen, /<<?//, heard 
or understood among us ; and one Lancaster man 
in particular, has been furnished with all his prejudices 
from the letters of Junius Americanus, a despicable 
creature (as we say) who has certainly blackened 
some men and measures in both Englands, in such 
manner as defies time itself to bleach their characters. 
And till the officious Philanthrop engaged, every one 
judged the friends, at least, of those respectable men, 
would avoid the provocation of fresh caustics to such 
rankled ulcers ; but luxuriant flesh forever interrupts 
the efficacy of the most healing plaisters, and must 
be removed as fast as it puts forth. Indeed gentle 
men, I myself who live in Boston, the centre of Amer 
ican politicks, have suspected we had some grievances 
to complain of before either Junius Anglicanus or 
Americanus ever published a letter on the subject to 
my knowledge : I thought the stamp-act a grievance, 
I think the extension of the vice-admiralty courts a 
grievance, I think the captious and unprecedented 
treatment of our legislature a grievance ; and above 
all, I think the alteration of our free and mutually 
dependent constitution, into a dependent ministerial 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 331 

despotism a grievance so great, so ignominious and 
intolerable, that in case I did not hope things would 
in some measure regain their ancient situation, with 
out more blood shed and murder than has already 
been committed, I could freely wish at the risk of my 
all to have a fair chance of offering to the manes of 
my slaughtered countrymen a libation of the blood of 
the ruthless traitors who conspired their destruction. 
It is here I confess my fingers would fall with weight, 

let those of Dr. Y- g, Mr. x, or even Mr. 

A s, fall how or where they pleased. 



[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 330, 331 ; extracts are printed in W. V. 
Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., p. 482, with the statement that such ex 
tracts were copied from an original draft in the autograph of Adams. 2 ] 

May it please your Excellency, 

In answer to your message of yesterday, this 
House beg leave to observe, that they are not un- 
apprized that the Province House is out of repair, 
and that expense might be saved, by making such re 
pairs as are necessary, as soon as may be. But, that 
building was procured for the residence of a Governor, 
whose sole support was to be provided for by the 
grants and acts of the General Assembly, according 
to the tenor of the charter : and, it is the opinion of 

1 On this date the Governor prorogued the General Court to meet again Sep 
tember 30. The next session actually commenced January 6, 1773. 

2 Wells also attributes to Adams the message of the House of May 29, 1772 ; 
Life of Samuel Adams, vol. I., p. 477; Massachusetts Slate Papers, p. 321. 

332 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

this House, that it never was expected by any Assem 
bly of this province, that it would be appropriated 
for the residence of any Governor, for whose support, 
adequate provision should be made in another way. 
Upon this consideration, we cannot think it our duty 
to make any repairs, at this time. 

Your Excellency may be assured, that this House 
is far from being influenced by any personal dis 
respect. Should the time come, which we hope for, 
when your Excellency shall think yourself at liberty 
to accept of your whole support from this province, 
according to ancient and invariable usage, we doubt 
not, but you will then find the Representatives of 
this people ready to provide for your Excellency a 
house, not barely tenantable, but elegant. In the 
mean time, as your Excellency receives from his 
Majesty a certain and adequate support, we cannot 
have the least apprehensions that you will be so far 
guided by your own inclination, as that you will 
make any town in the province the place of your 
residence, but where it shall be most conducive to 
his Majesty s service, and the good and welfare of 
the people. 


[Boston Gazette, October 5, 1772.] 

Messieurs EDES & GILL, 

" Is there a Prince on Earth, who has power to lay 
a single Penny upon his Subjects, without the Grant 
and Consent of those who are to pay it, otherwise 

1 Attributed to Adams by W. V. Wells. See above, page 256. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 333 

than by Tyranny and Violence! No Prince can levy 
it unless through Tyranny and under Penalty of Ex 
communication. But there are those who are Bruitish 
enough not to know what they can do or omit in this 

Such is the language of a great and good Historian 
and Statesman, a Subject of France. Had the 
English Politicians and Ministers been either half as 
honest or half as wise as he, they would never have 
driven the American Revenue without the Grant or 
Consent of those who pay it, to such a length, as to 
cause an Alienation of affection which perhaps may 
not easily if ever be recovered. By this kind of poli 
tics, says the worthy Frenchman, Charles the seventh 
brought a heavy Sin upon his own Soul and upon that 
of his Successors, and gave his Kingdom a Wound 
which would continue long to bleed. The British 
Ministers, possibly, may entertain different Ideas of 
Morals from those of the French Historian, if indeed 
they have any such kind of ideas at all. However, the 
Nation, I fear, will have Occasion to rue the day, 
when they suffer d their Politics so far to prevail, as 
to gain such an Influence in their Parliament as they 
certainly did in the last, to say nothing of the present. 
The Impositions upon the French, says Mr. Gordon, 1 
grew monstrous almost as soon as they grew arbitrary. 
Charles the seventh, who began them, never rais d 
annually more than one hundred and eighty thousand 
Pounds. His Son Lewis the eleventh almost trebled 

1 Rev. William Gordon, of Roxbury, author of The History of the Rise, 
Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the United Stales of 

334 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

the Revenue ; and since then, all that the Kingdom 
and People had, even to their Skins, has hardly been 
thought sufficient for their Kings." An awakening 
Caution to Americans ! Lest by tamely submitting 
to be plundered, they encourage their Plunderers to 
grasp at all they have. 

The Merchants of this Continent have passively 
submitted to the Indignity of a Tribute ; and the 
Landholders, tho ? Sharers in the Indignity, have been 
perhaps too unconcern d Spectators of the humiliat 
ing Scene. Posterity, who will no doubt revenge 
their Fathers Wrongs, may also be ashamed, when in 
the Page of History they are informed of their tame 
Subjection. Had the Body of this People shown a 
proper Resentment, at the time when the proud 
Taskmasters first made their appearance, we should 
never have seen Pensioners multiplying like the Lo 
custs in Egypt, which devoured every green Thing. 
I speak with Assurance ; because it seldom has hap 
pened if ever, that even a small People has been kept 
long in Bondage, when they have unitedly and perse- 
veringly resolv d to be Free. 

At that critical Period, we hearkened to what we 
then took to be, the Dictates of sound policy and 
Prudence. We were led to place a Confidence in 
those, whose Protection we had a right to claim, and 
we hoped for Deliverance in dry Remonstrances and 
humble Supplication. We have petition d, repeatedly 
petition d, and our Petitions have been heard, barely 
heard ! The Grievances of this Continent have no 
doubt "reached the Royal Ear" ; I wish I could see 
reason to say they had touch d the Royal Heart. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 335 

No They yet remain altogether unredress d. Such 
has been the baneful Influence of corrupt and in 
famous Ministers and Servants of the Crown ; that 
the Complaints of three Millions of loyal Subjects 
have not yet penetrated the Royal Breast, to move it 
even to pity. 

Have not our humble Petitions, breathing a true \ 

Spirit of rational Loyalty, and expressive of a just 
Sense of those Liberties the Restoration of which 
we implored, been followed with Grievance upon 
Grievance, as fast as the cruel Heart and Hand of a 
most execrable Paricide could invent and fabricate 
them ? I will not at present enumerate Grievances ; 
they are known, sufficiently known, felt and under 
stood. Is it not enough, to have a Governor, an 
avowed Advocate for ministerial Measures, and a 
most assiduous Instrument in carrying them on 
moddel d, shaped, controul d, and directed totally 
independant of the people over whom he is commis 
sioned to govern, and yet absolutely dependent upon 
the Crown pensioned by those on whom his exist 
ence depends, and paid out of a Revenue established 
by those who have no Authority to establish it, and 
extorted from the People in a Manner most Odious, 
insulting and oppressive. Is not this, Indignity 
enough to be felt by those who have any feeling? 
Are we still threatned with more? Is Life, Prop 
erty and every Thing dear and sacred, to be J 
now submitted to the Decisions of PENSION D JUDGES, 
holding their places during the pleasure of such 
a Governor, and a Council perhaps overawed ! To 
what a State of Infamy, Wretchedness and Misery 

336 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

shall we be reduc d if our Judges shall be prevail d 

upon to be thus degraded to Hirelings, and the Body 
of the People shall suffer their free Constitution to be 
overturn d and ruin d. Merciful GOD ! Inspire Thy 
People with Wisdom and Fortitude, and direct them 
to gracious Ends. In this extreme Distress, when the 
Plan of Slavery seems nearly compleated, O save our 
Country from impending Ruin Let not the iron 
Hand of Tyranny ravish our Laws and seize the 
Badge of Freedom, nor avow d Corruption and the 
murderous Rage of lawless Power be ever seen on 
the sacred Seat of Justice ! 

Is it not High Time for the People of this Country 
explicitly to declare, whether they will be Freemen 
or Slaves ? It is an important Question which ought 
to be decided. It concerns us more than any Thing 
in this Life. The Salvation of our Souls is inter 
ested in the Event : For wherever Tyranny is es- 
tablish d, Immorality of every Kind comes in like a 
Torrent. It is in the Interest of Tyrants to reduce 
the People to Ignorance and Vice. For they cannot 
live in any Country where Virtue and Knowledge 
prevail. The Religion and public Liberty of a 
People are intimately connected; their Interests are 
interwoven, they cannot subsist separately ; and 
therefore they rise and fall together. For this Rea 
son, it is always observable, that those who are com- 
bin d to destroy the People s Liberties, practice every 
Art to poison their Morals. How greatly then does 
it concern us, at all Events, to put a Stop to the Pro 
gress of Tyranny. It is advanced already by far too 
many Strides. We are at this moment upon a preci- 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 337 

pice. The next step may be fatal to us. Let us 
then act like wise Men ; calmly took around us and 
consider what is best to be done. Let us converse 
together upon this most interesting Subject and open 
our minds freely to each other. Let it be the topic 
of conversation in every social Club. Let every 
Town assemble. Let Associations & Combinations 
be everywhere set up to consult and recover our just, 

" The Country claims our active Aid. 
That let us roam; & where we find a Spark 
Of public Virtue, blow it into Flame." 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Octob 21 1772 


I have receivd several Letters from you ; and my 
not having returnd any Answer to them before, is 
owing by no means to an Inattention to them, but to 
my misfortune in not hearing of the few Vessells that 
pass from hence to Georgia being about to sail, till I 
lost the Opportunity. I therefore upon the first 
Notice, make use of this Conveyance to assure you of 
my tender Regards & Affection for you as a Brother ; 
sincerely hoping this will meet yourself & Family in 
health & happiness. Indeed common Experience 
convinces me that there is very little Dependence 
upon either in this Life ; We too often mistake our 

1 Brother-in-law of Adams. 

VOL. II. 22. 

338 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

true Happiness, and when we arrive to the Enjoy 
ment of that which seemd to promise it to us, we 
find that it is all an imaginary Dream, at the best 
fleeting & transitory. We have an affecting Instance 
of this within our own Connections ; Your amiable 
Sister Kitty was agreably married, and when in the 
daily Expectation of seeing the happy Pledge of con 
jugal Affection, cutt off without a moments Warning 
of the fatal Stroke of Death ! Still more happy how 
ever in another Life as we [have] abundant Reason to 
be assured ; for the Christian Temper & Behavior 
she constantly exhibited, when she least expected it, 
afford us more solid hopes of her present Happiness, 
than any Expressions she might have made use of, 
had she been permitted, at the time of her Departure. 
One would from this & other like Instances conclude, 
that to be possessd of the Christian Principles, & to 
accommodate our whole Deportment to such Princi 
ples, is to be happy in this Life ; it is this that sweet 
ens every thing we enjoy ; indeed of it self it yields 
us full Satisfaction, & thus puts it out of the power 
of the World to disappoint us by any of its frowns. 

Your last Letter mentioned your Expectation of 
the sudden Dissolution of your General Assembly, 
which I perceive afterwards took place. It appears 
still to be the determination of the ministry to en 
slave the Colonies, and the Governors are to be the 
Instruments. It therefore behoves every Colony to 
be vigilant ; & agreably to the Advice of the Penn 
sylvania Farmer, Each should support the others. 
This Province seems to be devoted to ministerial 
Vengeance. We have been long struggling against 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 339 

the Incroachments of Tyranny, which now threatens 
its Completion by the Independency of the Governor 
& the Judges of the superior Court. If the Tribute 
which is by Acts of Parliament extorted from the 
Americans, is appropriated for making the executive 
Power totally independent of the People for their 
Support, while it is absolutely dependent upon the 
Crown for its being as well as Subsistence, there will 
be an End of freedom. In such Courts & under 
such an Administration, you will easily conceive 
what Constructions of Law & what Decisions the 
people are to expect. I send you two or three of our 
latest papers ; there may be some Speculations upon 
the Subject in them, which you may think proper to 
get republishd in your papers. 

You mentiond in one of your Letters your Inten 
tion to send your Daughter here, than which nothing 
would be more agreable to us. 

Your Sister, my dear Betsy, 1 joyns with me in Ex 
pressions of Love to M rs Wells, & begs me to assure 
you that she is, as I am in strict truth 
Yours affectionately, 

[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 9, 10.] 

BOSTON, October 27, 1772. 


I have just now received your favour, dated this 
day. I am perfectly of your opinion with regard to 

1 Mrs. Adams. 

340 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

the independency of the judges. It is a matter be 
yond doubt in my mind. I was told yesterday, by 
one of his majesty s council, that Mr. Hutchinson has 
a letter by the packet, from Bernard, which advises 
him of it as a fact. This town is to meet to-morrow, 
to consider what is proper for them to do. We have 
looked upon it as of so interesting a nature to us, 
that even the report should alarm us. It is proposed 
by many among us to apply to the judges for their ex 
plicit declaration, whether they will accept of so 
odious a support, and to apply also to the governour 
for a general assembly forthwith. I will write you on 
Thursday, and let you know the event. Our enemies 
would intimidate us, by saying our brethren in the 
other towns are indifferent about this matter, for 
which reason I am particularly glad to receive your 
letter at this time. Roxbury, I am told, is thoroughly 
awake. I wish we could arouse the continent. 
I write in the utmost haste, 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text with slight variations is in 
J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 10-12. J 

BOSTON Oct 29 1772 


I wrote you in great Haste on Tuesday last. Since 
which the Freeholders & other Inhabit 15 of this Town 
have had a Meeting, 1 to enquire into the Grounds of 
the Report that the Salaries of the Judges are fixd & 

1 October 28, Boston Record Commissioners Report^ vol. xviii., p. 88. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 341 

paid by order of the Crown, and to determine upon 
such measures as should be proper for them to take 
upon so alarming an Occasion. 

The inclosd paper contains a short but true Ac 
count of their proceedings. It is proposd by some to 
petition the Govern r to order a session of the Gen 1 
Assembly, and that the Town should expressly de 
clare their natural & Charter Rights to their Repre 
sentatives, and the Instances in which they have been 
violated peremptorily requiring them to take every 
Step which the Constitution prescribes to redress our 
Grievances, or if every such Step has been already 
taken, to inform their Constituents, that they may 
devise such Measures as they may see their way clear 
to take, or patiently bear the Yoke. I will acquaint 
you with the proceedings of the Town as they pass. 
In the mean time I wish your Town would think it 
proper to have a Meeting, which may be most season 
able at this time. For as the Super r Court is to be 
held at Salem next Week, you will have the Opp y of 
making a decent Application to them, & enquiring 
of the Certainty of this Report, & other matters 
ment d in your Letter to me. Which Enquiry will be 
more naturally made to them in Case the Gov r should 
decline answering the message of this Town, or do it, 
if I may be allowd the Expression, equivocally. 

This Country must shake off their intolerable bur 
dens at all Events. Every day strengthens our op 
pressors & weakens us. If each Town would declare 
its Sense of these Matters I am perswaded our Ene 
mies would not have it in their power to divide us, in 
wh h they have all along shown their dexterity. Pray 

342 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

use your Influence with Salem & other Towns But 
I am now going with our Com 1 to his Excellency. 1 
Shall be glad of a Letter from you. Your last I read 
to the Town to their great Satisfaction though I 
concealed the name of its worthy Author. 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text, with variations, is in R. 
H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 193-195.] 

BOSTON Nov r 3 1772 


Since my last we have Advice that Lord Hills- 
borough is removd from the American Department, 
& tho he makes his Exit with the smiles & honors 
of the Court, he has the Curses of the disinterrested 
& better part of the Colonists. Not that it is thought 
his Lordship is by any means to be reckoned the 
most inveterate & active of all the Conspirators 
against our Rights : There are others on this Side 
of the Atlantick who have been more assiduous in 
plotting the Ruin of our Liberties than even he, and 

1 Adams, Otis and Joseph Warren were members of a committee of seven ap 
pointed by the Town of Boston on October 28 to present to the Governor the 
address adopted by the Town on that date. Ibid., p. 90. The address was 
prepared by a committee consisting of Adams, Joseph Warren and Benjamin 
Church. The text is in ibid., p. 89. Cf. Works of John Adams, vol. ii., p. 
299 (October 27, 1772). 

2 Arthur Lee to Samuel Adams, January 25, 1773: "I have just now re 
ceived your favour of Nov. 3, 1772, together with a pamphlet and some papers, 
for which I am extremely obliged to you. ... I shall take the liberty of 
putting the first part of your letter in the newspapers here, as I think it ex 
tremely proper my Lord Dartmouth should read the excellent admonition it 
contains." R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. i., p. 226. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 343 

they are the more infamous, because the Country 
they would enslave, is that very Country in which (to 
use the Words of their Adulators & Expectants) they 
were "born & educated." 

The Character of Lord Dartmouth has been unex 
ceptionable in America in point of moral Virtue ; I 
wish it could be ascertaind of all his Majestys Minis 
ters and Servants. It is the opinion I have of them 
that makes me tremble for his Lordship, lest in the 
Circle he should make Shipwreck of his Virtue. I 
am well informd that he has wrote a very polite Let 
ter to Hutchinson, in which he expresses a Satisfac 
tion in his Conduct, & tells him he has always been 
of Opinion that the King has a Right to pay his 
Governors & other officers but surely he should have 
made himself thoroughly acquainted with the several 
political Institutions and Charters of the Colonies as 
well as the nature of free Governments in general 
before he explicitly & officially declares such an 
Opinion. I wish a Consideration that he has to cor 
respond with the most artful plausible and insinuating 
Geniusses, & some of them the most malicious Ene 
mies of the common Rights of Mankind, might induce 
his Lordship to be upon his Guard against too sud 
denly giving full Credit to their Representations, 
which perhaps was the capital mistake of his pre 
decessor in office our Conspirators were alarmd 
at his Appointment & I believe are determined if 
they can to impose upon his Credulity, if he has any 
such Weakness about him. 

We are now alarmd with the Advice that the Judges 
of our Superior Court, have Salaries appointed by 

344 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

order of the Crown, independent of the people. This 
has occasiond a meeting of this metropolis, the pro 
ceedings of which you have in the inclosed papers. 
At the first meeting on the Wednesday J & at the last 
Adjournment on the Monday 2 following, there was a 
respectable Appearance of the Inhabitants, tho not 
so full as has sometimes been on Occasions of much 
less Importance ; owing partly to its being the Season 
of the year when the Town is filled with our Country 
folks & every one is laying up provisions necessary 
for the approaching long Winter, partly from the In 
dustry of the Enemies to prevent a full meeting as 
they before had been to prevent any meeting at all 
(for they dread nothing more) & partly from the 
Opinion of some that there was no method left to be 
taken but the last, which is also the Opinion of many 
in the Country. However as I said before, there was 
a respectable meeting ; and I think the Town has 
taken a necessary Step to ascertain the true Sense of 
the Country with regard to our Grievances, which 
being known, it will be the easier to determine upon 
& prosecute to Effect the Methods which ought to be 
taken for the Redress of our intolerable Grievances. 
The Tories give out, tho in Whispers, that they ex 
pect what they call a Breese before long, which they 
say they gather from the slow, but regular Approaches 
that are made. They will form what Judgment they 
please. Perhaps they begin to be apprehensive that 
the body of a long insulted people will bear the In- 

1 Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. xviii., p. 88. 
3 Ibid., p. 92. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 345 

suits & Oppression no longer than untill they feel in 
themselves Strength to shake off the Yoke. If this 
is their Determination, it is justifiable as far as the 
Declaration of Mr. H. himself has Weight ; for I am 
told by a Gentleman whom I can credit, that in Con 
versation he said there was nothing in Morality that 
forbid Resistance. 

In your last you expressd your hopes of the re 
moval of Hillsborough. I could not joyn with you ; 
for if I am to have a master, let me have a severe one 
that I may always have the mortifying Sense of 
it. I shall then always be disposed to take the first 
fair Opportunity of ridding my self of Slavery. There 
is danger of the peoples being flatterd with such par 
tial Reliefe as Lord Dartmouth may be able, (if dis 
posed) to obtain for them & building upon vain 
Hopes till their Chains are rivetted. Are they not 
still heaping Grievance upon Grievance, & while they 
remain, to what purpose would it be if his Lordship 
should get a few boyish Instructions to the Gov r re 
laxed ? Would this be a reason for a final Submis 
sion to a Tribute & Egyptian Taskmasters in Support 
of despotick Power ! The Tribute, the Tribute is the 
Indignity which I hope in God will never be patiently 
borne by a People who of all the people on the Earth 
deserve most to be free. 

I am astonishd that [Dr. Franklin] has written no 
Letter to the Speaker. 

I shall write you by the next Ship. 

346 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text, with variations, is in J. T. 
Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 15-18.] 

BOSTON 5 Nov r 1772 


I rec d with pleasure your Letter of the 2 d Inst. 
I was sure you c d not but be of Opinion, that Una 
nimity in the Measures taken by the friends of the 
Country is of the utmost Importance. I must with 
great Deferrence to your Judgment, think that even 
in our wretched State, the mode of petitioning the 
Gov r will have a good Effect. I was aware that his 
Answers would be in the same high tone, in which 
we find them expressd ; yet our requests have been 
so reasonable that in refusing to comply with them he 
must have put himself in the wrong, in the opinion of 
every honest & sensible man ; the Consequence of 
which will be, that such measures as the people may 
determine upon to save themselves, if rational & 
manly, will be the more reconcileable even to cautious 
minds, & thus we may expect that Unanimity which 
we wish for. 

I have the satisfaction of inclosing the last proceed 
ings of our Town meeting, in which I think you will 
perceive a Coincidence with your own Judgment, in a 
plan concerted for the whole to act upon. Our timid 
sort of people are disconcerted, when they are posi 
tively told that the Sentiments of the Country are 
different from those of the City. Therefore a free 
Communication with each Town will serve to ascertain 
this matter ; and when once it appears beyond Con- 
| tradiction, that we are united in Sentiments there will 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 347 

be a Confidence in each other, & a plan of Opposition 
will be easily formed, & executed with Spirit. In 
such a Case (to return your own Language with en 
tire Approbation) those " who have Virtue enough to 
oppose the wicked designs of the Great, will have this 
for their boast that they have struggled for & with an 
honest people." 

I was at first of your Opinion " that it w d be most 
proper for a Com 6 from Boston, united with Com tes 
from two or three other Towns to wait on the Judges " 
&c. and I mentiond it to several Gentlemen of the 
Neighboring Towns who approved of it, but so much 
Caution prevails, that they suspected whether their 
respective towns w d stir till Boston had given the 
Lead, (a needless Compliment to the Capital) ; This 
turnd our Thoughts to the Measures taken by the 
Town, & led me to conceive hopes, that as the Super 1 
Court w d be soon sitting at Salem, M bl Head & other 
towns in that County would come into such a proposal. 

I take Notice of what you observe " that our whole 
dependence as a people seems to be upon our own Wisdom 
& Valor" in which I fully agree with you. It puts 
me in mind of a Letter I rec d not along ago from a 
friend of mine of some note in London, wherein he 
says, " your whole dependence under God is upon 
your own Virtue, (Valor). I know of no Noblemen 
in this Kingdom who care any thing about you, ex 
cepting Lords Chatham & Shelburne, & you would 
do well to be watchful even of them." 

I earnestly wish that the Inhabitants of Marblehead 
& other Towns would severally meet, & if they see 
Cause, among other Measures, second this town & 

348 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

appoint a Com 6 to be ready to communicate with ours 1 
when ready. This would at once discover an Union 
of Sentiments thus far & have its Influence on other 
Towns. It w d at least show that Boston is not wholly 
deserted, & might prevent " its falling a Sacrifice to 
the Rage or ridicule of our (common) Enemies." 

I shall be pleasd with your further Sentiments & 
am in strict truth, 


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library ; a text, with variations, is in J. 
T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 19-21.] 

BOSTON Nov r 14 1772 


Your Letter of the 10 Inst. 2 did not come to my 
hand till this Evening. It is a great Satisfaction to 
me to be assured from you that the Friends to Liberty 
in Marblehead are active & that there is like to be a 
Town meeting there. Our Committee are industrious, 
and I think I may promise you, they will be ready to 
report to the Town in two or three days ; so that if 
your Town should think proper to make an Adjourn- 

1 The Boston Committee of Correspondence was appointed on November 2. 

" It was then moved by M r Samuel Adams, That a Committee of Correspond 
ence be appointed to consist of twenty one Persons to state the Rights of the 
Colonists and of this Province in particular, as Men, as Christians, and as Sub 
jects ; to communicate and publish the same to the several Towns in this Pro 
vince and to the World as the sense of this Town, with the Infringements and 
Violations thereof that have been, or from time to time may be made Also 
requesting of each Town a free communication of their Sentiments on this Sub 
ject And the Question being accordingly put Passed in the Affermative. 
Nem. Con*. " Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. xviii., p. 93. Cf., 
William Gordon, History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the In- 
dependetice of the United States of America, vol. i., pp. 312-314. 

2 J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 18, 19 ; the original is 
in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 349 

ment for ten days or a Fortnight, they will doubtless 
by that time if not before have an Opportunity of 
acting upon our Resolutions. I am sorry when any of 
our Proceedings are not exactly according to your 
Mind. The Word you object to 1 in our resolves was 
designd to introduce into our State of Grievances 
" the Ch h Innovations and the Establishment of those 
Tyrants in Religion, Bishops " which as you observe 
will probably take place. I cannot but hope, when 
you consider how indifferent too many of the Clergy 
are to our just & righteous Cause, that some of them 
are the Adulators of our Oppressors, and even some 
of the best of them are extremely cautious of recom 
mending (at least in their publick performances), the 
Rights of their Country to the protection of Heaven, 
lest they should give offence to the little Gods on 
Earth, you will judge it quite necessary that we should 
assert [and] vindicate our Rights as Christians as well 
as Men & Subjects. 

The Town of Roxbury are to meet on Monday 
next ; and a great Number in Cambridge have sub 
scribed a Petition to their Selectmen for a Meeting 
there. I have rec d a Letter from a Gentleman of In 
fluence in Plymouth who is pleasd to say, he thinks 
the general plan adopted here will produce great 
Consequences if supported with Spirit in the Country ; 
& that he believes there will be no Difficulty in getting 
a Meeting there & carrying the point in seconding 
this town. He tells me, the Pulse of his fellow 
Townsmen beat high and their resentment he sup 
poses is equal to that of any other Town. May God 

1 " Christians." 

350 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

grant, that the Love of Liberty & a Zeal to support 
it may enkindle in every town. If the Enemies 
should see the flame bursting in different parts of the 
Country & distant from each other, it might dis 
courage their attempts to damp & quench it. I am. 
well assured they are alarmd at the Measure now 
taking, being greatly apprehensive of the same Con 
sequences from it which our good friend at Plymouth 
hopes and expects. This should animate us in carry 
ing it into Execution. I beg you would exert your 
utmost Influence in your neighboring towns and else 
where. I hear Nothing of old Salem. I fear they 
have had an opiate administerd to them. I am told 
there has been a Consultation there, a Cabal in which 
his E y presided. Pray let me still be favord 
with your Letters & be assured I am sincerely 



Adopted by the Town of Boston, November 20, 1772. 2 
[Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. xviii., pp. 94-108.] 

The Committee appointed by the Town the second 
Instant " to State the Rights of the Colonists and 

1 A complete draft of the " Rights of the Colonists," in the handwriting of 
Adams, is in the Committee of Correspondence Papers, Lenox Library ; in the 
same collection is a copy of the " List of Violations," said to be in the hand 
writing of William Eustis, a medical student under Joseph Warren ; also in the 
same collection is a draft of the " Letter of Correspondence," with corrections 
in the autograph of Adams. The preface to the English edition of the " Rights 
of the Colonists " is printed in J. Bigelow, Complete Works of Benjamin Frank 
lin, vol. iv., pp. 542-548, and in the Boston Gazette, May 3, 1773. 

* In the Committee of Correspondence Papers, Lenox Library, is the original 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 351 

of this Province in particular, as Men, as Christians, 
and as Subjects ; to communicate and publish the 
same to the several Towns in this Province and to 
the World as the sense of this Town with the Infringe 
ments and Violations thereof that have been, or from 
Time to Time may be made. Also requesting of each 
Town a free Communication of their Sentiments 

First, a State of the Rights of the Colonists and of 

this Province in particular 

Secondly, A List of the Infringements, and Viola 
tions of those Rights. 

Thirdly, A Letter of Correspondence with the 

other Towns. 

I st . Natural Rights of the Colonists as Men. 

Among the Natural Rights of the Colonists are 
these First, a Right to Life ; Secondly to Liberty ; 
thirdly to Property ; together with the Right to sup 
port and defend them in the best manner they can 
Those are evident Branches of, rather than deduc 
tions from the Duty of Self Preservation, commonly 
called the first Law of Nature- 
All Men have a Right to remain in a State of 
Nature as long as they please : And in case of in- 
tollerable Oppression, Civil or Religious, to leave the 

Society they belong to, and enter into another. 

When Men enter into Society, it is by voluntary 
consent ; and they have a right to demand and insist 
upon the performance of such conditions, And 

warrant for this town meeting, with the original return thereon signed by the 
twelve constables of the town. The collection also contains the rough draft 
minutes of the meeting, made by the town clerk, William Cooper. 

352 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

previous limitations as form an equitable original 

Every natural Right not expressly given up or 
from the nature of a Social Compact necessarily ceded 

All positive and civil laws, should conform as far as 
possible, to the Law of natural reason and equity. 

As neither reason requires, nor religeon permits the 
contrary, every Man living in or out of a state of 
civil society, has a right peaceably and quietly to 
worship God according to the dictates of his 

" Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty " 
in matters spiritual and temporal, is a thing that all 
Men are clearly entitled to, by the eternal and im 
mutable laws Of God and nature, as well as by the 
law of Nations, & all well grounded municipal laws, 
which must have their foundation in the former. 

In regard to Religeon, mutual tolleration in the 
different professions thereof, is what all good and 
candid minds in all ages have ever practiced ; and 
both by precept and example inculcated on mankind : 
f And it is now generally agreed among Christians that 
! this spirit of toleration in the fullest extent consist 
ent with the being of civil society " is the chief char- 
acteristical mark of the true church" * & In so much 
that M. r Lock has asserted, and proved beyond the 
possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that 
such toleration ought to be extended to all whose 
doctrines are not subversive of society. The only 
Sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all 

* See Locks Letters on Toleration. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 353 

wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those 
who teach Doctrines subversive of the Civil Govern 
ment under which they live. The Roman Catholicks 
or Papists are excluded by reason of such Doctrines 
as these " that Princes excommunicated may be de 
posed, and those they call Hereticks may be destroyed 
without mercy ; besides their recognizing the Pope in 
so absolute a manner, in subversion of Government, 
by introducing as far as possible into the states, under 
whose protection they enjoy life, liberty and property, 
that solecism in politicks, Imperium in imperio * lead 
ing directly to the worst anarchy and confusion, civil 
discord, war and blood shed 

The natural liberty of Men by entring into society is 
abridg d or restrained so far only as is necessary for the 
Great end of Society the best good of the whole 

In the state of nature, every man is under God, 
Judge and sole Judge, of his own rights and the 
injuries done him : By entering into society, he _\ 
agrees to an Arbiter or indifferent Judge between 
him and his neighbours ; but he no more renounces 
his original right, than by taking a cause out of the 
ordinary course of law, and leaving the decision to 
Referees or indifferent Arbitrations. In the last case 
he must pay the Referees for time and trouble ; he 
should be also willing to pay his Just quota for the 
support of government, the law and constitution ; 
the end of which is to furnish indifferent and impar 
tial Judges in all cases that may happen, whether 
civil ecclesiastical, marine or military. 

" The natural liberty of man is to be free from any 

* A Government within a Government 

354 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

superior power on earth, and not to be under the will 
or legislative authority of man ; but only to have the 
law of nature for his rule."- 

In the state of nature men may as the Patriarchs 
did, employ hired servants for the defence of their 
lives, liberty and property : and they should pay them 
reasonable wages. Government was instituted for the 
purposes of common defence ; and those who hold the 
reins of government have an equitable natural right 
to an honourable support from the same principle 
" that the labourer is worthy of his hire " but then the 
same community which they serve, ought to be asses 
sors of their pay : Governors have no right to seek 
what they please ; by this, instead of being content 
with the station assigned them, that of honourable 
servants of the society, they would soon become Ab 
solute masters, Despots, and Tyrants. Hence as a 
private man has a right to say, what wages he will 
give in his private affairs, so has a Community to de 
termine what they will give and grant of their Sub 
stance, for the Administration of publick affairs. And 
in both cases more are ready generally to offer their 
Service at the proposed and stipulated price, than are 
able and willing to perform their duty. 

In short it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in 
the power of one or any number of men at the enter 
ing into society, to renounce their essential natural 
rights, or the means of preserving those rights 
when the great end of civil government from the 
very nature of its institution is for the support, pro 
tection and defence of those very rights : the principal 
of which as is before observed, are life liberty and 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 355 

property. If men through fear, fraud or mistake, 
should in terms renounce and give up any essential 
natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great 
end of society, would absolutely vacate such renuncia 
tion ; the right to freedom being the gift of God Al 
mighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this 
gift, and voluntarily become a slave 

2 d . The Rights of the Colonists as Christians 

These may be best understood by reading and 
carefully studying the institutes of the great Lawgiver 
and head of the Christian Church : which are to be 
found closely 1 written and promulgated in the Neiv 


By the Act of the British Parliament commonly 
called the Toleration Act, every subject in England 
Except Papists & c was restored to, and re-established 
in, his natural right to worship God according to the 
dictates of his own conscience. And by the Charter 
of this Province it is granted ordained and established 
(that it is declared as an original right) that there shall 
be liberty of conscience allowed in the worship of 
God, to all Christians except Papists, inhabiting or 
which shall inhabit or be resident within said Province 
or Territory.* Magna Charta itself is in substance 
but a constrained Declaration, or proclamation, and 
promulgation in the name of King, Lord, and Com 
mons of the sense the latter had of their original in 
herent, indefeazible natural Rights, f as also those of 

1 So printed. The draft and pamphlet edition read " clearly." 

*See i. Wm. and Mary. St. 2. C. 18 and Massachusetts Charter. 

f Lord Cokes Im. 2 Blackstone, Commentaries Vol. I st . Page 122. 

8 So printed. The draft and pamphlet edition read " Inst." 

356 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

free Citizens equally perdurable with the other. That 
great author that great jurist, and even that Court 
writer Mr Justice Blackstone holds that this recog 
nition was justly obtained of King John sword in 
hand : and peradventure it must be one day sword in 
hand again rescued and preserved from total destruc 
tion and oblivion. 

3 d . The Rights of the Colonists as Subjects 

A Common Wealth or state is a body politick or 
civil society of men, united together to promote their 
mutual safety and prosperity, by means of their 

The absolute Rights of Englishmen, and all freemen 
in or out of Civil society, are principally, personal 
security personal liberty and private property. 

All Persons born in the British American Colonies 
are by the laws of God and nature, and by the Com 
mon law of England, exclusive of all charters from 
the Crown, well Entitled, and by the Acts of the 
British Parliament are declared to be entitled to all 
the natural essential, inherent & inseperable Rights 
Liberties and Privileges of Subjects born in Great 
Britain, or within the Realm. Among those Rights 
are the following ; which no men or body of men, 
consistently with their own rights as men and citizens 
or members of society, can for themselves give up, or 
take away from others 

First, " The first fundamental positive law of all 
Commonwealths or States, is the establishing the 
legislative power ; as the first fundamental natural 

* See Lock and Vatel 


1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 357 

law also, which is to govern even the legislative 
power itself, is the preservation of the Society." * 

Secondly, The Legislative has no right to absolute \ 
arbitrary power over the lives and fortunes of the 
people : Nor can mortals assume a prerogative, not 
only too high for men, but for Angels ; and therefore 
reserved for the exercise of the Deity alone. 

" The Legislative cannot Justly assume to itself a 
power to rule by extempore arbitrary decrees ; but it 
is bound to see that Justice is dispensed, and that 
rights of the subjects be decided, by promulgated, 
standing and known laws, and authorized independent 
Judges;" that is independent as far as possible of 
Prince or People. " There shall be one rule of Jus 
tice for rich and poor ; for the favorite in Court, 
and the Countryman at the Ploiigh" f 

Thirdly, The supreme power cannot Justly take j 
from any man, any part of his property without his j 
consent, in person or by his Representative. 

These are some of the first principles of natural 
law & Justice, and the great Barriers of all free 
states, and of the British Constitution in particular. 
It is utterly irreconcileable to these principles, and to-Vl 
many other fundamental maxims of the common law, 
common sense and reason, that a British house of 
commons, should have a right, at pleasure, to give 
and grant the property of the Colonists. That these 
Colonists are well entitled to all the essential rights, 
liberties and privileges of men and freemen, born 
in Britain, is manifest, not only from the Colony 

* Locke on Government. Salus Populi Suprema Lex esto 
f Locke 

358 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

charter, in general, but acts of the British Parliament. 
The statute of the 13 th of George 2. c. 7. naturalizes 
even foreigners after seven years residence. The 
words of the Massachusetts Charter are these, " And 
further our will and pleasure is, and we do hereby for 
us, our heirs and successors, grant establish and or 
dain, that all and every of the subjects of us, our 
heirs and successors, which shall go to and inhabit 
within our said province or territory and every of 
their children which shall happen to be born there, or 
on the seas in going thither, or returning from 
thence shall have and enjoy, all liberties and im 
munities of free and natural subjects within any of 
the dominions of us, our heirs and successors, to all 
intents constructions & purposes whatsoever as if 
they and every of them were born within this our 
Realm of England." Now wha^ib^r^^anjthere be, 
where .property-is taken away without consent ? Can 
it be said with any colour of truth and Justice, that 
this Continent of three thousand miles in length, and 
of a breadth as yet unexplored, in which however, its 
supposed, there are five millions of people, has the 
least voice, vote or influence in the decisions of the 
British Parliament ? Have they, all together, any 
more right or power to return a single number * to 
that house of commons, who have not inadvertently, 
but deliberately assumed a power to dispose of their 
lives, * Liberties and properties, then 2 to choose an 
Emperor of China ! Had the Colonists a right to 

1 So printed. The draft and pamphlet edition read " member." 

2 So printed. The draft and pamphlet edition read " than." 

* See the Act of the last Session, relating to the Kings Dock 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 359 

return members to the british parliament, it would 
only be hurtfull ; as from their local situation and 
circumstances it is impossible they should be ever 
truly and properly represented there. The inhabi 
tants of this country in all probability in a few years 
will be more numerous, than those of Great Britain 
and Ireland together ; yet It is absurdly expected by 
the promoters of the present measures, that these, with 
their posterity to all generations, should be easy while 
their property, shall be disposed of by a house of 
commons at three thousand miles distant from them ; / 
and who cannot be supposed to have the least care or 
concern for their real interest : Who have not only 
no natural care for their interest, but must be in effect 
bribed against it ; as every burden they lay on the 
colonists is so much saved or gained to themselves. 
Hitherto many of the Colonists have been free from 
Quit Rents ; but if the breath of a british house of 
commons can originate an act for taking away all our 
money, our lands will go next or be subject to rack 
rents from haughty and relentless landlords who 
will ride at ease, while we are trodden in the dirt. 
The Colonists have been branded with the odious 
names of traitors and rebels, only for complaining of 
their grievances ; How long such treatment will, or 
ought to be born is submitted. 

A List of Infringements 6 Violations of Rights 

We cannot help thinking, that an enumeration of some of the 
most open infringments of our rights, will by every candid Per 
son be Judged sufficient to Justify whatever measures have been 
already taken, or may be thought proper to be taken, in order 
to obtain a redress of the Grievances under which we labour. 

360 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

Among many others we Humbly conceive, that the following 
will not fail to excite the attention of all who consider themselves 
interested in the happiness and freedom of mankind in general, 
and of this continent and province in particular. 

i st The British Parliament have assumed the power of legisla 
tion for the Colonists in all cases whatsoever, without obtaining 
the consent of the Inhabitants, which is ever essentially necessary 

to the right establishment of such a legislative 

2 d They have exerted that assumed power, in raising a Reve 
nue in the Colonies without their consent; thereby depriving 
them of that right which every man has to keep his own earnings 
in his own hands until he shall in person, or by his Representa 
tive, think fit to part with the whole or any portion of it. This 
infringement is the most extraordinary, when we consider the 
laudable care which the British House of Commons have taken 
to reserve intirely and absolutely to themselves the powers of giv 
ing and granting moneys. They not only insist on originating 
every money bill in their own house, but will not even allow the 
House of Lords to make an amendment in these bills. So tena 
cious are they of this privilege, so jealous of any infringement 
of the sole & absolute right the people have to dispose of their 
own money. And what renders this infringement the more 
grievous is, that what of our earnings still remains in our 
own hands is in a great measure deprived of its value, so long as 
the British Parliament continue to claim and exercise this power 
of taxing us; for we cannot Justly call that our property which 
others may, when they please take away from us against our 
In this respect we are treated with less decency and regard 
than the Romans shewed even to the Provinces which They 
had conquered. They only determined upon the sum which 
each should furnish, and left every Province to raise it in the 

manner most easy and convenient to themselves 

3 d A number of new Officers, unknown in the Charter of this 
Province, have been appointed to superintend this Revenue, 
whereas by our Charter the Great & General Court or Assembly 
of this Province has the sole right of appointing all civil officers, 
excepting only such officers, the election and constitution of 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 361 

whom is in said charter expressly excepted; among whom these 
Officers are not included. 

4 th These Officers are by their Commission invested with 
powers altogether unconstitutional, and entirely destructive to 
that security which we have a right to enjoy; and to the last de 
gree dangerous, not only to our property; but to our lives: For 
the Commissioners of his Majestys customs in America, or any 
three of them, are by their Commission impowered, " by writing 
under their hands and scales to constitute and appoint inferior 
Officers in all and singular the Port within the limits of their 
commissions " Each of these petty officers so made is intrusted 
with power more absolute and arbitrary than ought to be lodged 
in the hands of any man or body of men whatsoever; for in the 
commission aforementioned, his Majesty gives & grants unto his 
said Commissioners, or any three of them, and to all and every 
the Collectors Deputy Collectors, Ministers, Servants, and all 
other Officers serving and attending in all and every the Ports 
and other places within the limits of their Commission, full power 
and authority from time to time, at their and any of their wills and 
pleasures, as well By Night as by day to enter and go on board 
any Ship, Boat, or other Vessel, riding lying or being within, or 
coming into any Port, Harbour, Creek or Haven, within the 
limits of their commission; and also in the day time to go into 
any house, shop, cellar, or any other place where any goods 
wares or merchandizes lie concealed, or are suspected to lie con 
cealed, whereof the customs & other duties, have not been, or 
shall not be, duly paid and truly satisfied, answered or paid unto 
the Collectors, Deputy Collectors, Ministers, Servants, and other 
Officers respectively, or otherwise agreed for; and the said house, 
shop, warehouse, cellar, and other place to search and survey, 
and all and every the boxes, trunks, chests and packs then and 
there found to break open."- 

Thus our houses and even our bed chambers, are exposed to 
be ransacked, our boxes chests & trunks broke open ravaged and 
plundered by wretches, whom no prudent man would venture to 
employ even as menial servants; whenever they are pleased to say 
they suspect there are in the house wares &c for which the dutys 
have not been paid. Flagrant instances of the wanton exercise 

362 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

of this power, have frequently happened in this and other sea 
port Towns. By this we are cut off from that domestick security 
which renders the lives of the most unhappy in some measure 
agreable. Those Officers may under colour of law and the 
cloak of a general warrant, break thro the sacred rights of the 
Domicil^ ransack mens houses, destroy their securities, carry off 
their property, and with little danger to themselves commit the 
most horred murders. 

And we complain of it as a further grievance, that notwith 
standing by the Charter of this Province, the Governor and the 
Great and General Court or Assembly of this Province or Terri 
tory, for the time being shall have full power and authority, from 
time to time, to make, ordain and establish all manner of whole 
some and reasonable laws, orders, statutes, and ordinances, 
directions and instructions, and that if the same shall not within 
the term of three years after presenting the same to his Majesty 
in privy council be disallowed, they shall be and continue in full 
force and effect, untill the same shall be repealed by the Great 
and General Assembly of this Province: Yet the Parliament of 
Great Britain have rendered or attempted to render, null and 
void a law of this Province made and passed in the Reign of his 
late Majesty George the first, intitled " An Act stating the Fees 
of the Custom-house Officers within this Province " and by meer 
dint of power, in violation of the Charter aforesaid, established 
other and exorbitant fees, for the same Officers; any law of the 
Province to the contrary notwithstanding. 

5 th . Fleets and Armies have been introduced to support these 
unconstitutional Officers in collecting and managing this uncon 
stitutional Revenue; and troops have been quarter d in this 
Metropolis for that purpose. Introducing and quartering stand 
ing Armies in a free Country in times of peace without the con 
sent of the people either by themselves or by their Representatives, 
is, and always has been deemed a violation of their rights as free 
men; and of the Charter or Compact made between the King of 
Great Britain, and the People of this Province, whereby all the 
rights of British Subjects are confirmed to us. 

6 th . The Revenue arising from this tax unconstitutionally laid, 
and committed to the management of persons arbitrarily ap- 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 363 

pointed and supported by an armed force quartered in a free 
City, has been in part applyed to the most destructive purposes. 
It is absolutely necessary in a mixt government like that of this 
Province, that a due proportion or balance of power should be 
established among the several branches of legislative. Our An 
cestors received from King William & Queen Mary a Charter by 
which it was understood by both parties in the contract, that such 
a proportion or balance was fixed; and therefore every thing 
which renders any one branch of the Legislative more inde 
pendent of the other two than it was originally designed, is an 
alteration of the constitution as settled by the Charter; and as it 
has been untill the establishment of this Revenue, the constant 
practise of the General Assembly to provide for the support of 
Government, so it is an essential part of our constitution, as it is 
a necessary means of preserving an equilibrium, without which 
we cannot continue a free state. 

In particular it has always been held, that the dependence of 
the Governor of this Province upon the General Assembly for 
his support, was necessary for the preservation of this equilibrium; 
nevertheless his Majesty has been pleased to apply fifteen 
hundred pounds sterling annually out of the American revenue, 
for the support of the Governor of this Province independent of 
the Assembly, whereby the ancient connection between him and 
this people is weakened, the confidence in the Governor lessened 
and the equilibrium destroyed, and the constitution essentially 

And we look upon it highly probable from the best intelligence 
we have been able to obtain, that not only our Governor and 
Lieuvetenant Governor, but the Judges of the Superior Court of 
Judicature, as also the Kings Attorney and Solicitor General are 
to receive their support from this Grievous tribute. This will 
if accomplished compleat our slavery. For if taxes are raised 
from us by the Parliament of Great Britain without our consent, 
and the men on whose opinions and decisions our properties 
liberties and lives, in a great measure depend, receive their sup 
port from the Revenues arising from these taxes, we cannot, 
when we think on the depravity of mankind, avoid looking with 
horror on the danger to which we are exposed ? The British 

364 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

Parliament have shewn their wisdom in making the Judges there 
as independent as possible both on the Prince and People, both 
for place and support : But our Judges hold their Commis 
sions only during pleasure; the granting them salaries out of this 
Revenue is rendering them independent on the Crown for their 
support. The King upon his first accession to the Throne, for 
giving the last hand to the independency of the Judges in Eng 
land, not only upon himself but his Successors by recommending 
and consenting to an act of Parliament, by which the Judges 
are continued in office, notwithstanding the demise of a King, 
which vacates all other Commissions, was applauded by the 
whole Nation. How alarming must it then be to the Inhabi 
tants of this Province, to find so wide a difference made between 
the Subjects in Britain and America, as the rendering the Judges 
here altogether dependent on the Crown for their support. 

7 th . We find ourselves greatly oppressed by Instructions sent 
to our Governor from the Court of Great Britain, whereby the 
first branch of our legislature is made merely a ministerial 
engine. And the Province has already felt such effects from 
these Instructions, as We think Justly intitle us to say that they 
threaten an entire destruction of our liberties, and must soon, if 
not checked, render every branch of our Government a useless 
burthen upon the people. We shall point out some of the 
alarming effects of these Instructions which have already taken 

In consequence of Instructions, the Governor has called and 
adjourned our General Assemblies to a place highly inconvenient 
to the Members and grately disadvantageous to the interest of 
the Province, even against his own declared intention 

In consequence of Instructions, the Assembly has been pro 
rogued from time to time, when the important concerns of the 
Province required their Meeting 

In obedience to Instructions, the General Assembly was Anno 
1768 dissolved by Governor Bernard, because they would not 
consent to rescind the resolution of a former house, and thereby 
sacrifise the rights of their constituents. 

By an Instruction, the honourable his Majesty Council are 
forbid to meet and transact matters of publick concern as a 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 365 

Council of advice to the Governor, unless called by the Gov 
ernor ; and if they should from a zealous regard to the interest 
of the Province so meet at any time, the Governor is ordered to 
negative them at the next Election of Councellors. And although 
by the Charter of this Province the Great & General Court have 
full power and authority to impose taxes upon the estates and 
persons of all and every the proprietors and inhabitants of this 
Province, yet the Governor has been forbidden to give his con 
sent to act imposing a tax for the necessary support of govern 
ment, unless such persons as were pointed out In the said 
instruction, were exempted from paying their Just proportion of 
said tax 

His Excellency has also pleaded Instructions for giving up the 
provincial fortress, Castle William into the hands of troops, 
over whom he had declared he had no controul (and that at 
a time when they were menaceing the Slaughter of the Inhabi 
tants of the Town, and our Streets were stained with the blood 
which they had barbariously shed) Thus our Governor, ap 
pointed and paid from Great Britain with money forced from 
us, is made an instrument of totally preventing or at least of 
rendering [futile], every attempt of the other two branches of the 
Legislative in favor of a distressed and wronged people : And 
least the complaints naturally occasioned by such oppression 
should excite compassion in the Royal breast, and induce his Ma 
jesty seriously to set about relieving us from the cruel bondage and 
insult which we his loyal Subjects have so long suffered, the 
Governor is forbidden to consent to the payment of an Agent to 
represent our grievances at the Court of Great Britain, unless he 
the Governor consent to his election, and we very well know 
what the man must be to whose appointment a Governor in such 
circumstances will consent 

While we are mentioning the infringement of the rights of 
this Colony in particular by means of Instructions, we cannot 
help calling to remembrance the late unexampled suspension of 
the legislative of a Sister Colony, New York by force of an In 
struction, untill they should comply with an Arbitrary Act of the 
British Parliament for quartering troops, designed by military 
execution, to enforce the raising of a tribute. 

366 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

8 th . The extending the power of the Courts of Vice Admir- 
ality to so enormous a degree as deprives the people in the 
Colonies in a great measure of their inestimable right to tryals 
by Juries : which has ever been Justly considered as the grand 
Bulwark and security of English property. 

This alone is sufficient to rouse our jealousy : And we are 
again obliged to take notice of the remarkable contrast, which 
the British Parliament has been pleased to exhibit between the 
Subjects in Great Britain & the Colonies. In the same Statute, by 
which they give up to the decision of one dependent interested 
Judge of Admirality the estates and properties of the Colonists, 
they expressly guard the estates & properties of the people 
of Great Britain ; for all forfeitures & penalties inflicted by 
the Statute of George the Third, or any other Act of Parlia 
ment relative to the trade of the Colonies, may be sued for in 
any Court of Admiralty in the Colonies ; but all penalties and 
forfeitures which shall be incurred in Great Britain, may be sued 
for in any of his Majestys Courts of Record in Westminster or in 
the Court of Exchequer in Scotland, respectively. Thus our 
Birth Rights are taken from us ; and that too with every mark 
of indignity, insult and contempt. We may be harrassed and 
dragged from one part of the Continent to the other (which some 
of our Brethren here and in the Country Towns already have 
been) and finally be deprived of our whole property, by the arbi 
trary determination of one biassed, capricious Judge of the 

9 th . The restraining us from erecting Stilling Mills for manu 
facturing our Iron the natural produce of this Country, Is an 
infringement of that right with which God and nature have in 
vested us, to make use of our skill and industry in procuring the 
necessaries and conveniences of life. And we look upon the re 
straint laid upon the manufacture and transportation of Hatts to 
be altogether unreasonable and grievous. Although by the 
Charter all Havens Rivers, Ports, Waters, & c . are expressly 
granted the Inhabitants of the Province and their Successors, to 
their only proper use and behoof forever, yet the British Parlia 
ment passed an Act, whereby they restrain us from carrying our 
Wool, the produce of our own farms, even over a ferry; whereby 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 367 

the Inhabitants have often been put to the expence of carrying a 
Bag of Wool near an hundred miles by land, when passing over 
a River or Water of one quarter of a mile, of which the Province 
are the absolute Proprietors, would have prevented all that 

io th . The Act passed in the last Session of the British Parlia 
ment, intitled, An Act for the better preserving his Majestys Dock 
Yards, Magizines, Ships, Ammunition and Stores, is, as we appre 
hend a violent infringement of our Rights. By this Act any one 
of us may be taken from his Family, and carried to any part of 
Great Britain, there to be tried whenever it shall be pretended 
that he has been concerned in burning or otherwise destroying 
any Boat or Vessel, or any Materials for building & c . any Naval 
or Victualling Store & c . belonging to his Majesty. For by this 
Act all Persons in the Realm, or in any of the places thereto be 
longing (under which denomination we know the Colonies are 
meant to be included) may be indicted and tryed either in any 
County or Shire within this Realm, in like manner and form as 
if the offence had been committed in said County, as his Ma 
jesty and his Successors may deem Most expedient. Thus we \ 
are not only deprived of our grand right to tryal by our Peers in 
the Vicinity, but any Person suspected, or pretended to be sus 
pected, may be hurried to Great Britain, to take his tryal in any 
County the King or his Successors shall please to direct ; where, 
innocent or guilty he is in great danger of being condemned;] 
and whether condemned or acquitted he will probably be ruined 
by the expense attending the tryal, and his long absence from 
his Family and business; and we have the strongest reason to 
apprehend that we shall soon experience the fatal effects of this 
Act, as about the year 1769 the British Parliament passed Re 
solves for taking up a number of Persons in the Colonies and 
carrying them to Great Britain for tryal, pretending that they 
were authorised so to do, by a Statute passed in the Reign 
of Henry the Eighth, in which they say the Colonies were in 
cluded, although the Act was passed long before any Colonies 
were settled, or even in contemplation. 

n th . As our Ancestors came over to this Country that they 
might not only enjoy their civil but their religeous rights, and 

3 68 




particularly desired to be free from the Prelates, who in those 
times cruilly persecuted all who differed in sentiment from 
the established Church ; we cannot see without concern the 
various attempts, which have been made and are now making, to 
establish an American Episcopate. Our Episcopal Brethren of 
the Colonies do enjoy, and rightfully ought ever to enjoy, the 
free exercise of their religeon, we cannot help fearing that they 
who are are so warmly contending for such an establishment, 
have views altogether inconsistent with the universal and peace 
ful enjoyment of our Christian privileges : And doing or attempt 
ing to do any thing which has even the remotest tendency to en 
danger this enjoyment, is Justly looked upon a great grievance, 
and also an infringement of our Rights, which is not barely to 
exercise, but peaceably & securely to enjoy, that liberty where 
with CHRIST has made us free. 

And we are further of Opinion, that no power on Earth can 
justly give either temporal or spiritual Jurisdiction within this 
Province, except the Great & General Court. We think there 
fore that every design for establishing the Jurisdiction of a 
Bishop in this Province, is a design both against our Civil and 
Religeous rights : And we are well informed, that the more can 
did and Judicious of our Brethren of the Church of England in 
this and the other Colonies, both Clergy and Laity, conceive of 
the establishing an American Episcopate both unnecessary and 

12 th . Another Grievance under which we labour is the frequent 
alteration of the bounds of the Colonies by decisions before 
the King and Council, explanatory of former grants and Char 
ters. This not only subjects Men to live under a constitution 
to which they have not consented, which in itself is a great 
Grievance ; but moreover under color, that the right of Soil is 
affected by such declarations, some Governors, or Ministers, or 
both in conjunction, have pretended to Grant in consequence of 
a Mandamus many thousands of Acres of Lands appropriated 
near a Century past ; and rendered valuable by the labors of the 
present Cultivators and their Ancestors. There are very notable 
instances of Setlers, who having first purchased the Soil of the 
Natives, have at considerable expence obtained confermation of 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 369 

title from this Province ; and on being transferred to the Juris 
diction of the Province of New Hampshire have been put to the 
trouble and cost of a new Grant or confermation from thence ; 
and after all this there has been a third declaration of Royal 
Will, that they should thence forth be considered as pertaining 
To the Province of New York. The troubles, expences and 
dangers which hundreds have been put to on such occasions, 
cannot here be recited ; but so much may be said, that they have 
been most cruelly harrassed, and even threatned with a mili 
tary force, to dragoon them into a compliance, with the most 
unreasonable demands. 

A Letter of Correspondence to the Other Towns. 

BOSTON November 20 : 1772 

Gentlemen We the Freeholders and other Inhabi 
tants of Boston in Town Meeting duly Assembled, 
according to Law, apprehending there is abundant to 
be alarmed at 1 the plan of Despotism, which the ene 
mies of our invaluable rights have concerted, is 


rapidly hastening to a completion, can no longer 
conceal our impatience under a constant, unremitted, 
uniform aim to enslave us, or confide in an Adminis 
tration which threatens us with certain and inevitable 
destruction. But, when in addition to the repeated 
inroads made upon" the Rights and Liberties of the 
Colonists, and of tnose in this Province in particular, 
we reflect on the late extraordinary measure in affix 
ing stipends or Salaries from the Crown to the Offices 
of the Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature, 
making them not only intirely independent of the 
people, whose lives and properties are so much in 
their power, but absolutely dependent on the Crown 

1 So printed. Corrected by Adams in the draft to read " that." 

VOL. II. 24. 

370 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

(which may hereafter, be worn by a Tyrant) both 
for their appointment and support, we cannot but 
be extremely alarmed at the mischievous tendency of 
this innovation ; which in our opinion is directly 
contrary to the spirit of the British Constitution, 
pregnant with innumerable evils, and hath a direct 
tendency To deprive us of every thing valuable as 
Men, as Christians and as Subjects, entitled, by the 
Royal Charter, to all the Rights, liberties and privi 
leges of native Britons. Such being the critical 
state of this Province, we think it our duty on this 
truly distressing occasion, to ask you, What can with 
stand the Attacks of mere power ? What can pre 
serve the liberties of the Subject, when the Barriers 
of the Constitution are taken away ? The Town of 
Boston consulting on the matter above mentioned, 
thought proper to make application to the Governor 
by a Committee ; requesting his Excellency to com 
municate such intelligence as he might have received 
relative to the report of the Judges having their sup 
port independent of the grants of this Province a 
Copy of which you have herewith in Paper N. i. 1 
To which we received as answer the Paper N. 2. 2 
The Town on further deliberation, thought it ad 
visable to refer the matter to the Great and General 
Assembly ; and accordingly in a second address as 
N. 3 3 they requested his Excellency that the General 

1 Prepared by a committee consisting of Adams, Joseph Warren and Benja 
min Church. The text is in Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. xviii., 
p. 89. 

3 The text is in ibid.^ p. 90. 

3 Prepared by a committee consisting of Adams, James Otis and Thomas 
Gushing. The text is in ibid., p. 91. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 371 

Court might Convene at the time to which they then 
stood prorogued ; to which the Town received the 
reply as in N. 4.* in which we are acquainted with his 
intentions further to prorogue the General Assem 
bly, which has since taken place. Thus Gentlemen 
it is evident his Excellency declines giving the least 
satisfaction as to the matter in request. The affair -)f 
being of publick concernment, the Town of Boston 
thought it necessary to consult with their Brethren 
throughout the Province ; and for this purpose ap 
pointed a Committee, to communicate with our fellow 
Sufferers, respecting this recent instance of oppres 
sion, as well as the many other violations of our 
Rights under which we have groaned for several 
Years past This Committee have briefly Recapitu 
lated the sense we have of our invaluable Rights as 
Men, as Christians, and as Subjects ; and wherein 
we conceive those Rights to have been violated, which 
we are desirous may be laid before your Town, that 
the subject may be weighed as its importance re 
quires, and the collected wisdom of the whole People, 
as far as possible, be obtained, on a deliberation of 
such great and lasting moment as to involve in it the 
fate of all our Posterity Great pains has been taken 
to perswade the British Administration to think that 
the good People of this Province in general are quiet 
and undisturbed at the late measures ; and that any 
uneasiness that appears, arises from a few factious 
designing and disaffected men. This renders it the 
more necessary, that the sense of the People should 
be explicitly declared. A free communication of 

1 The text is in ibid., p. 92. 

372 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

your sentiments to this Town, of our common dan 
ger, is earnestly solicited and will be gratefully re 
ceived. If you concur with us in opinion, that our 
Rights are properly stated, and that the several 
Acts of Parliament, and Measures of Administration, 
pointed out by us are subversive of these Rights, 
you will doubtless think it ol the utmost importance 
that we stand firm as one man, to recover and sup 
port them ; and to take such measures by directing 
our Representatives, or otherwise, as your wisdom 
and fortitude shall dictate, to rescue from impending 
ruin our happy and glorious constitution. But if it 
should be the general voice of this Province, that the 
Rights as we have stated them, do not belong to us ; 
or that the several measures of Administration in the 
British Court, are no violations of these Rights, or 
that if they are thus violated or infringed, they are 
not worth contending for, or resolutely maintaining ; 
should this be the general voice of the Province, 
we must be resigned to our wretched fate ; but shall 
forever lament the extinction of that generous ardor 
for Civil and Religeous liberty, which in the face of 
every danger, and even death itself, induced our 
fathers to forsake the bosom of their Native Country, 
and begin a settlement on bare Creation But we trust 
this cannot be the case : We are sure your wisdom, 
your regard to yourselves and the rising Generation, 
cannot suffer you to dose, or set supinely indifferent 
on the brink of destruction, while the Iron hand of 
oppression is dayly tearing the choicest Fruit from 
the fair Tree of Liberty, planted by our worthy Pre 
decessors, at the expence of their treasure, & abun- 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 373 

dantly water d with their blood It is an observation 
of an eminent Patriot, that a People long inured to 
hardships, loose by degrees the very notions of 
liberty ; they look upon themselves as Creatures at 
mercy, and that all impositions laid on by superior 
hands, are legal and obligatory. But thank Heaven 
this is not yet verified in America! We have yet 
some share of publick virtue remaining : we are not 
afraid of poverty, but disdain slavery. The fate of 
Nations is so Precarious and revolutions in States so 
often take place at an unexpected moment, when the 
hand of power by fraud or flattery, has secured every 
Avenue of retreat, and the minds of the Subject de 
based to its purpose, that it becomes every well wisher 
to his Country, while it has any remains of freedom, 
to keep an Eagle Eye upon every inovation and 
stretch of power, in those that have the rule over us. 
A recent instance of this we have in the late Revolu 
tions in Sweden, by which the Prince once subject to 
the laws of the State, has been able of a sudden to 
declare himself an absolute Monarch The Sweeds 
were once a free, martial and valient people : Their 
minds are now so debaced, that they rejoice at being 
subject to the caprice and arbitrary power of a 
Tyrant & kiss their Chains. It makes us shudder to 
think, the late measures of Administration may be 
productive of the like Catastrophe ; which Heaven 
forbid ! Let us consider Brethren, we are struggling 
for our best Birth Rights & Inheritance; which be 
ing infringed, renders all our blessings precarious in 
their enjoyments, and consequently trifling in their 
value. Let us disappoint the Men who are raising 

374 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

themselves on the ruin of this Country. Let us 
convince every Invader of our freedom, that we will 
be as free as the Constitution our Fathers recognized, 
will Justify. 1 

[Boston Gazette, November 30, 1772.*] 

MR. A N D s. 


The weakness of an adversary with a man of under 
standing will frequently disarm him of his resentment : 
Who would chuse to enter the lists, when even vic 
tory is attended with disgrace ? A n D s as a 
Hockster of small Wares, within the Bar-room ; or 
laudably vending Milk and Water, might have 
grubbed on unnoticed, and not superlatively con 
temptible ; but when he so far mistakes his proper 
department, as to blunder into the field of politicks, 

1 The four papers mentioned in the " Letter of Correspondence " are included 
in the pamphlet edition of the three principal documents printed by order of the 
town for distribution among the other towns of the province. (Cf. Boston Rec 
ord Commissioners Report, vol. xviii., p. 94.) The title page of the pamphlet 
edition was as follows : The Votes and Proceedings of the Freeholders and other 
Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, In Toiun Meeting Assembled, According to 
Law. [Published by Order of the TownJ\ To which is prefixed, as Introduc 
tory, An attested Copy of a Vote of the Town at a preceeding Meeting. Boston : 
Printed by Edes and Gill, in Queen Street, and T. and J. Fleet, in Cornhill. 

For a claim that the " Letter of Correspondence" was written by Benjamin 
Church, see R. Frothingham, Life of Joseph Warren, p. 206. As to the 
" Rights of the Colonists," see also W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. 
i., p. 501. In addition to the complete draft, a preliminary draft, or outline of 
topics, of the " Rights" is in the Samuel Adams Papers. 

2 The following note by the publishers is printed with this article : 

" Dr. Young s Letter to Mr. Aaron Davis, Jun. should have had a Place 
in this Day s Paper had we not been pre engaged with the following." 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 375 

and assume a dictatorial and offensive part, we are 
compelled with reluctance to scourge the insect, tho 
convinced tis but an insect still. We are informed 
by your fellow townsman, whom we presume must 
know you well, that you are destitute of feeling ; your 
unexampled effrontery in the publick transaction 
which has unhappily brought you into notice, added 
to the consummate assurance evidenced in the stupid 
composition to which you have tacked your name, 
are strong circumstances in favour of this position : 
But is your modesty truly impregnable ? cannot the 
weapon of stern rebuke arouse your sensibility ? must 
honest indignation mourn a defeat ? I intend to try 
the doubtful experiment, tho you should analize a 
satyr to be a proof of your general consequence, and 
extract incense to your vanity from the blackest 
records of your shame. 

In your courageous zeal for the cause of Christ 
ianity, and the Virgin Mary, permit me to question 
your sincerity : It is evident from your notable per 
formance, that you have been acquainted with the 
religious principles and immoral practices of the^/z- 
tleman so very exceptionable to you ; for some years 
past : That he was then as thorough-paced an infidel, 
as virulent an opposer of o^lr holy religion, as he is 
now : That he was doing discredit to the Bible then, 
or to adopt your own phrase, was undeceiving mankind 
as actively as at any time since : That you was ac 
quainted with the open profanity of his conversation, 
and if we may take your word for it, was an ear- 
witness of his oaths and execrations : Why did you 
not commence a champion in the cause of Christianity 

376 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

some months earlier? It would have had a better 
appearance, if in your ebullient zeal you had endeav 
oured to prevent his disseminating such mischievous 
principles, and seasonably entered your caveat against 
the pernicious effects of his example. But the cause 
of Christianity abstracted from political concerns, was 
not sufficient to awaken your resentment : Will not 
this my dear sir ! occasion suspicions, that all your 
flaming professions of patriotism will neither discredit 
nor remove ? 

Doctor Young (I dare you to contradict me) has 
ever been an unw.earied assertor of the rights of his 
countrymen : has taken the post of hazard, and acted 
vigorously in the cause of American freedom : Such 
endeavours and exertions, have justly entitled him to 
the notice, to the confidence of the people ; they, from 
a thorough conviction of his political integrity have 
united him with several gentlemen, against whom we 
presume you can have no just exception, to explain 
their rights and state their grievances ; was not your 
conscience so delicately offensible, I would ask such 
an immaculate Christian, whether your ideas of repro 
bation extended not only to the whole committee, but 
to every transaction in which they could possibly be 
employed? If not, are you not ashamed of your 
capricious folly, in rejecting a cause which you pro 
fess to have at heart, for the sake of an individual, 
against whom, your spotless purity has matter of 

Shall I be arraigned for want of charity, if I here 
express my doubt of your veracity in this matter? 
The cloak of Christianity is the threadbare garb of 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 377 

hypocrisy ; and novel cover for political apostates : 
I suspect t is the cause that renders the man ob 
noxious ; the infidel might have perverted the world, 
and your zeal been smothered in its native bosom 
of sanctity : in short, had not the cause of liberty 
found a busy advocate in the man you brand with 
irreligion, your abhorrence would probably never 
have found a tongue. 


You do not chuse to have any thing to do with 
measures wherein you must follow the lead of such men 
as Dr. Young\ I apprehend you confine yourself 
here to political matters ; if so, what must those re 
jected measures be ? if just, right and reasonable, the 
man must be an incorrigible blockhead to reject them, 
let them originate where they will : if on the contrary, 
they are improper and exceptionable ; you might 
have discountenanced the measure, without villifying 
the man. 

Inconsiderable and weak as I esteem you, you 
have still an interest in the constitutional claims of an 
English subject, equal to a nobleman, equal to an 
intelligent being : these you have no right to sacrifice 
even to your own predominant folly. You assert 
that you are, and ever have been as steady a friend 
to the rights and privileges of your country, as any 
man whatsoever, &c. what then is that exact point of 
difference, that chaste line of decorum, to which your 
love of your country will carry you, and no further? 
all those concerned in consulting and labouring for 
the redemption of their country, must be very exem 
plary Christians, or your patriotism hangs so loosely 
about you, that your country may perish rather than 

378 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

you will unite for its salvation, with a man not com- 
pleatly orthodox : For no political measures can 
possibly be reasonable or Just, which are not dictated 
by men of piety and real Christianity : The truth of 
this observation will appear with peculiar lustre, when 
we consider what a paultry figure, those antient 
heathenish states of Greece and Rome made in the 
primitive ages. You elsewhere shrewdly remark. 
that it has always been astonishing to the world, how 
any important trusts came to be committed to Doctor 
Young ; the best account that can be given for it, 
YOU BELIEVE is, that he has appeared ready to lead 
in such bold and exceptional measures, as rather 
savoured of faction, than boded any good to the public : 
which is in plain English, that because the measures 
he proposed, were dangerous and exceptionable, 
Therefore the town approved and confided in him. 
To wave the illiberal slander upon the town ; I 
question, most Christian sir ! whether any article of 
Doctor Young s CREED will shock decency and com 
mon sense more than this. 

The present crisis is truly an alarming one to your 
country ; the few friends of the people have abundant 
necessity to have their hands strengthened : the man 
who deserts now, is the worst enemy of his country : 
You sir ! have done this, with the aggravated guilt of 
endeavouring to load with obloquy the cause you 
abandon I scorn to keep terms with a man I esteem 
so base You have provided yourself a Retreat, 
being assured of the smiles of power ; nay more, you 
are entitled to their favour, for the rank injury you 
meant to the oppressed people ; and we shall probably 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 379 

see such baseness distinguished in the commissioned 


[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 196, 197.] 

BOSTON, Nov. 3ist, 1772. 

MY DEAR SIR, My last letter to you was of the 3d 
inst. I now enclose the proceedings of this town at a 
meeting appointed to receive the report of the com 
mittee, which is attested by the town-clerk, and pub 
lished by order of the town. 

Our enemies are taking all imaginable pains to dis 
parage the proceedings, and prevent their having any 
effect in the country. They are particularly endeav 
ouring to have it believed, that the vote was carried 
at a very thin meeting ; and in the Court Gazette of 
last week have had the assurance to say, that there 
were not more than twenty persons present, and that 
not ten voted for it ; whereas it was much such a 
meeting, or rather fuller than the last. The town 
of Roxbury, adjacent to this, have met, and against 
the efforts of the whole cabal have raised a committee 
of nine persons to take our proceedings into consid 
eration, and report at an adjournment ; having before 
voted the independency of the judges, " a most danger 
ous innovation." Plymouth, another large town, forty 
miles distant, has also met, but we have not yet heard 
what has been done there ; 1 from the spirit of the 
petitions to their selectmen for a meeting, among the 
enclosed papers, I hope to send you an agreeable ac 
count. Other towns are in motion of their accord, 

1 See below, page 394. 

380 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

for our pamphlet is not yet sent into the country 
towns, Roxbury excepted. The conspirators are 
very sensible that if our design succeeds, there will 
be an apparent union of sentiments among the peo 
ple of this province, which may spread through the 
continent. You cannot then wonder that their utmost 
skill is employed to oppose it. 

I intended to have sent my last by Capt. Scott, but 
having failed in that design, I herewith enclose it. I 
am disappointed if I do not receive a letter from you 
by every vessel that arrives here. Be assured that I 
am with great esteem sir, your humble servant, 

[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 22, 23.] 

BOSTON, Dec. 7, 1772. 


I have just received your s of the 26th Novem 
ber, 1 and take the earliest opportunity to acknowledge 
it. I shall lay it before our committee as soon as may 
be. Hope you have had a happy meeting this day, 
and rest with esteem, 

Sir, your friend, 

Monday, 10 o clock evening. 

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Dec r 14 1772 


I am at a Loss to determine in my own Mind 
whether a Letter from me will be agreable to you, 

1 J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 21, 22. 

2 Addressed, "in the Customs, Providence." Cf. Literary Diary of Ezra 
Stiles, vol. i., p. 58. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 381 

as I have not receivd a Line from you since I wrote 
my last several Months ago. If any Consideration 
has brot you to a Resolution no longer to keep up an 
Epistolary Conversation with me, I must on my part 
cease ; but while I remember former Connections, I 
shall never forget the only surviving Branch of a 
Family I loved, and shall make my self as happy as 
possible, in silently wishing the best Welfare of him 
whose Regards I think I have not forfeited. 

It is not an easy thing at this time of my Life, to 
put me out of the possession of my self. I have 
been used to the alternate Frowns & Smiles of many 
who call themselves, & some of them in truth are my 
Friends. I bear it all with QEquanimity, infinitely 
better pleasd with the Approbation of my own 
mind, than I should be with the flatteries of the 
Great, & in the Sunshine of power. Those who love 
this Country, I have the Vanity to think are in Real 
ity, my friends ; for they must be convincd that the 
small Share of Ability which Gracious Heaven has 
been pleasd to bestow on me, has ever been em- 
ployd for its Happiness. If I have mistaken its true 
Happiness (which by the Way I think I have not) it 
belongs to the Candid to overlook it ; die Opinion of 
others I very little regard, & have a thorough Con 
tempt for all men, be their Names Characters & 
Stations what they may, who appear to be the 
irreclaimable Enemies of Religion & Liberty. Had 
I not thought it would have been rather an Incon 
venience to you, I should have sent you the last 
Week the Votes & proceedings of your native town ; 
If I can be informd by you that it will not be dis- 

382 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

agreable, I will send you a printed Copy by the next 

Altho I have already transgressd the Bounds of a 
Letter to so great a Stranger, yet having a warm 
friendship for M rs Checkley, I cannot help desiring 
you to make mention of my own & my family regards 
to her. Having said this I must beg you to believe, 
whatever others may have whisperd to the Contrary \ 
that I am 

Yours affectionately, 

[Boston Gazette, December 14, 1772.] 


NOTWITHSTANDING the ministerial Tools have so 
often puff d upon the Impartiality of the Court 
Gazette, we have had a second Instance of the Neces 
sity the Selectmen of this Town have thought them 
selves under to vindicate the Cause of Liberty & 
Truth, from the gross Misrepresentation of well 
known Facts that have been made in that immaculate 
Paper. If Mr. Draper had had the least Inclination 
to have ascertained the Falsehood of the Paragraph 
inserted in his Paper of the 26th of November, it was 
so notorious, that without giving the Selectmen the 
Trouble of it, he might have done it himself, by en 
quiring of perhaps the first honest Man he had met 
in the Street : But it was calculated to mislead the 
Reader into a Belief, that " not ten Persons voted 
for sending the Letter of Correspondence " into the 
Country, and therefore it must, to answer so good a 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 383 

Purpose, be inserted in that " circulating " Gazette, 
whether true or false ; and the Publisher, very de 
murely, by Way of Atonement, after the Falsehood 
is detected, promises the injur d Publick " to enquire 
into the Foundation of it." ! ! ! 

In his last Gazette he informs his Readers that he 
had accordingly apply d to his Author ; who, he says, 
" does not deny the Number present " at the Meeting 
" as declared by the Selectmen when the first Vote 
pass d." Now the Selectmen declare, u that a respect 
able Number of the Inhabitants attended the Meet 
ing through the Day, and when the Letter, after 
being twice read and amended in the Meeting was 
voted, and accepted to be sent, it appeared to them, 
and they are well satisfied, that there was not less 
than three Hundred Inhabitants present, and in the 
Opinion of others the Number was much larger " ; 
which is undoubtedly the Fact. But Mr. Draper s 
Author of the Note (if he had any) had said that 
" when the Votes pass d for sending the letter, there 
was not twenty Men present besides the Gentlemen 
Selectmen & some of the Committee ". The Contra 
diction appear d so glaring even in Mr. Draper s eyes, 
as well as others, that after he had publish d it to the 
World, he thought his own Reputation concern d, as 
indeed it was, to enquire into the Foundation of the 
Report, which he ought to have done before. The 
Man of Verity his Author, makes a shift to tell him, 
that truly " it was a Vote that pass d half an Hour 
after Nine o Clock that he meant in his Note, when 
most of the Inhabitants had withdrawn " ; but he does 
not now say what Vote he meant in his Note, though 

384 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

when he reported it " with some Confidence " he 
plumply said it was the Vote for sending the Letter. 
The Man who is resolv d to serve a Party at the ex- 
pence of Truth, should have the best of Memories ; 
the want of which has render d the Court Writers 
oftentimes inconsistent with themselves and with each 
other. But what else are we to expect from Cham 
pions of a Cause which has only the feeble Props of 
Misrepresentation and low Artifice to support it ! 
As this Author reported according to Draper with 
some Confidence, he ought to have inform d himself 
of a known Fact, that the question debated at half an 
Hour after Nine o Clock, as he now says, or at about 
Ten as he had asserted in his Note, was not whether 
the Letter should be sent to the Selectmen of the 
Towns in the Country ; That had been determined 
by a full Vote Nem. Con. before " most of the In 
habitants had withdrawn ". It was after this Vote 
had pass d, and when it is allow d the Meeting was 
thin, a Question of much less Importance than the 
other was debated, viz. In what Manner the Letter 
should be sent ; upon which it was agreed that the 
Town-Clerk should sign and forward it by the Direc 
tion of the Committee. 1 Accordingly, I am well as 
sured, it has been forwarded to four fifths of the 
Gentlemen Selectmen in the Country, the representa 
tives of the several Towns, the Members of his Ma 
jesty s Council and others of Note, by the Direction 
of the Committee, in Pursuance of the Vote of the 
Town, with less Expence for Carriage than two Dol 
lars. I have a better Opinion of the good Sense of 

^Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. xviii., p. 94. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 385 

the People of this Country, than to believe they will 
be diverted from an Attention to Matters which essen 
tially concern their own and their Childrens best 
Birthrights, and which every Day become more seri 
ous and alarming, by the Trifles that are every Week 
thrown out perhaps with that very Design in the 
Court Gazette more especially. The Ax is laid at 
the Root of our happy civil Constitution : Our reli 
gious Rights are threatned : These important Mat 
ters are the Subjects of the Letter of this Town to 
our Friends and Fellow Sufferers in the Country. 
Whether there were present at the Meeting three Hun 
dred or three Thousand, it was a legal Meeting : As 
legal as a Meeting of the General Assembly convened 
by the King s Writ or a Meeting of his Majesty s 
Council summoned by his Excellency the Governor : 
This I say with due respect to those great Assem 
blies. The Selectmen, among whom is the honorable 
Gentleman who was Moderator* of the Meeting, 
have condescended to publish it under their Hands, 
that "a very respectable Number attended the Meet 
ing through the Day " : If it had been as thin a 
Meeting as Mr. Draper s Writers would fain have the 
Country think it was, still, being a legal Meeting, 
their proceedings according to the Warrant for call 
ing it, would have been as legal as those of his Ma 
jesty s Council when seven Gentlemen only (which 
Number by the Charter constitutes a Quorum) out of 
their whole Number, Twenty-Eight, happen to be 
present. If the Generality of my Countrymen shall 
think those Proceedings to be of any Importance to 

* John Hancock, Esq; 

VOL. II. 25 

386 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

them, and shall act upon them with their own good 
Sense and Understanding, I care not who concern 
themselves in adjusting the private, moral or religious 
Characters of Dr. Young and the Lieutenant Gover 
nor. The part which each of these Gentlemen has 
acted upon the political Stage is well known. 

I would just observe to Mr. Draper, that the Name 
of the Gentleman who furnish d him with the Note 
before refer d to, is perhaps not so deep a Secret as he 
may imagine it to be. It may be, he had then no 
thought that a Story inadvertently told, would have 
been immediately work d up by the Press : This how 
ever has been done, and the Publick has been thereby 
abused : It should make one cautious not too sud 
denly to communicate any Piece of Intelligence, espe 
cially of Importance, and still more especially of 
political Importance, to one whose Business it is 
to publish what he hears. Mr. Draper may flatter 
himself that " the Credit of his Paper has not yet 
suffered " : It is sometimes not an easy thing, to 
perswade a Man to believe that to be true, which he 
wishes may not be true : It must needs be difficult to 
establish in the minds of impartial Men, the Reputa 
tion of a Paper, the Publisher of which (to use the 
mild, very mild Expressions of the Selectmen) " has 
suffered", it may be said repeatedly, " what was so 
different from the fact to be inserted," before he 
" had Opportunity to be very particular in his In 
quiries about it ; especially as it was a Matter, by his 
own Concession, so interesting to the People in the 
Country, as that " they ought to be satisfied whether 
the Report be true or false ". This, we hope, by the 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 387 

Interposition of the Selectmen is now done ; and it 
was the more necessary, because the same Gentleman 
who furnished Mr. Draper with the Note, as he calls 
it, had related the story which is now detected, to a 
Person going, and since gone into a distant Country 
in this Province. 

Whether Mr. Draper in the Conclusion of what 
he inserted in his last, sign d the Printer, had an In 
tention obliquely to reflect on the Honor of the 
Selectmen, those Gentlemen, if they please will 


[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 23-25.] 

BOSTON, Dec. 23, 1772. 


The further proceedings of the truly patriotic town 
of Marblehead, together with your own esteemed 
favours of the i6th and 2ist instant, came to my hand 
in due season. The proceedings I immediately com 
municated to our chairman ; and from your hint that 
it was thought proper to suspend the publication, to 
gether with assurances of letters from some other 
towns speedily, we agreed also to suspend the calling 
a meeting of our committee, which however will be 
done soon. Agreeably to the intimations in your last 
I find in the Essex Gazette 1 a, what shall I call it ? a 
disapprobation, to use their own term, signed by a 
few men, of the proceedings of a whole town. If 

1 Published at Salem, by S. and E. Hall. 

388 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

" in fact there was but about twenty persons who 
voted at the meeting" and all the rest were against 
the measure, I wonder much that they did not follow 
the example of so eminent a person as the single dis 
sentient and outvote you when they had it in their 
power. Or why could not the twenty-nine disappro- 
bators have attended the meeting the second time and 
prevented your taking such measures from which 
they " are apprehensive the town will incur a great 
deal of public censure " ? This would indeed have 
been meritorious. I am a stranger to most of the 
gentlemen who have thus signalized themselves ; Mr. 
Mansfield I once thought a zealous whig, perhaps I 
was mistaken. After all, the whole seems to be but 
a weak effort ; their third reason appears to me so ex 
cessively puerile, that I am surprised that gentlemen 
of character could deliberately set their hands to it. 

Your last proceedings sent to us in manuscript are 
attested by the town clerk. I am sorry to observe 
that the printed copy in the Essex Gazette is without 
his attestation, because an advantage may be made of 
it in our Court Gazette to lessen its credit and author 
ity ; to prevent which I intend the next Monday s 
papers shall have it from the manuscript unless 
(which I cannot much expect) I shall be otherwise 
advised by you. 

I was thinking that you might turn the tables upon 
your disapprobating friends, by getting a much larger 
subscription from persons who were not at the meet 
ing and approve of the proceedings. Whether it be 
prudent or worth while to try this method you must 
certainly be a better judge th^n I am. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 389 

The tools of power, little and great, are taking un 
wearied pains to prevent the meeting of the towns, 
but they do not succeed altogether to their wishes. 
I cannot help entertaining some sanguine hopes that 
the measures we have pursued will have a happy 

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Deer 28 1772 


This day I had the Honor of receiving a Letter 
signd by yourself and other Gentlemen of Note 
in Providence. The Subject is weighty, & requires 
more of my Attention than a few Hours, to give you 
my digested Sentiments of it ; neither have I yet had 
an Opportunity of advising with the few among my 
Acquaintances, whom I would chuse to consult upon 
a Matter, which in my Opinion may involve the Fate 
of America. This, I intend soon to do ; and shall 

1 Of Providence, R. I. Under date of December 25, 1772, Deputy Governor 
Sessions, Chief Justice Stephen Hopkins, John Cole, and Moses Brown had 
written to Adams with reference to the Gaspee affair and to Lord Dartmouth s 
letter to the Governor of Rhode Island of September 4, 1772. A copy is in S. 
A. Wells, Samuel Adams and the American Revolution, vol. i., pp. 363365. 
A copy of a letter, under date of February 15, 1773, from Sessions, Hopkins, 
Cole, and Brown to Adams, acknowledging the receipt of three letters from 
Adams in response to their letter of December 25, 1772, is in ibid., pp. 370, 
371. In this letter to Adams his correspondents comment as follows : " At or 
about the time we wrote you, we transmitted copies of the same to several 
gentlemen in North America, from the most of whom we have received answers, 
agreeing nearly in sentiments, with those you were pleased to communicate to 
us ; though no one has entered into a disquisition of the subject so fully and 
satisfactorily as you have." The original letter is also in the Lenox Library. 

390 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

then, I hope, be able to communicate to you (before 
the Time you have set shall expire) such Thoughts, 
as in your Judgment, may perhaps be wise and salu 
tary on so pressing an Occasion. Thus much how 
ever seems to me to be obvious at first View ; that 
the whole Act of Parliament so far as it relates to 
the Colonies, & consequently the Commission which 
is founded upon it, is against the first Principles of 
Government and the English Constitution, Magna 
Charta & many other Acts of Parliament, declaratory 
of the Rights of the Subject ; & therefore the Guard 
ians of the Rights of the Subject will consider whether 
it be not their Duty, so far from giving the least 
Countenance to the Execution of it, to declare it, 
ipso Facto null & Void. This Commission seems to 
be substituted in the Room of a Grand Jury, which is 
one of the greatest Bulwarks of the Liberty of the 
Subject ; instituted for the very Purpose of prevent 
ing Mischeife being done by false Accusers. By the 
Act of Parliament of the 25 th of Ed. 3 d (in the true 
Sense of the Words the best of Kings) it is establishd, 
that none shall be taken by Suggestion made to the 
King or his Council (which seems to me to be the 
present Point) unless it be by Indictment or Present 
ment of good & lawful People of the same Neigh 
bourhood, where such Deeds be done And, "if 
any thing be done against the same it shall be re- 
dressd & holden for none." But certain Persons 
proscribd in the Colony of Rhode Island, are to be 
taken without such Indictment or Presentment, & 
carried away from the Neighborhood where Deeds 
unlawful are suggested to the King to have been 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 391 

committed, & there put to answer contrary to that 
Law, which even so long ago was held to be the old 

Law of the Land. One Reason given in the 

Act for taking away that accursed Court called the 
Star Chamber was, because all Matters examinable 
& determinable before that Court might have their 
due Punishment and Correction by the Common Law 
of the Land and in the ordinary Course of Justice 
elsewhere. But here seems to be a stopping of the 
ordinary Course of Justice ; & by setting up a Court 
of Enquiry founded upon a Suggestion of evil Deeds 
made to the King & of certain Persons supposd to be 
concernd therein, Jurisdiction is given to others than 
the constituted ordinary Courts of Justice, & in a 
Way other than the ordinary Course of the Law, 
that is, an arbitrary Way to examine & draw into 
Question Matters & things which, by the Act for 
regulating the privy Council it is declared, that 
neither his Majesty nor his privy Council have or 
ought to have any Jurisdiction Power or Authority to 
do. In short, this Measure appears to me to be 
repugnant to the first Principles of natural Justice. 
The interrested Servants of the Crown, and some of 
them pensiond, perhaps byassd & corrupted being 
the constituted Judges, whether this or that Subject 
shall be put to answer for a supposd Offence against 
the Crown, & that in a distant Country, to their great 
Detriment & Danger of Life & Fortune, even if their 
Innocence sh d be made to appear. What Man is safe 
from the malicious Prosecution of such Persons, un 
less it be the cringing Sycophant, and even he holds 
his Life and Property at their Mercy. It should 

392 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

awaken the American Colonies, which have been too 
long dozing upon the Brink of Ruin. It should again 
unite them in one Band. Had that Union which 
once happily subsisted been preservd, the Conspira 
tors against our Common Rights would never have 
venturd such bold Attempts. It has ever been my 
Opinion, that an Attack upon the Liberties of one 
Colony is an Attack upon the Liberties of all ; and 
therefore in this Instance all should be ready to yield 
Assistance to Rhode Island. But an Answer to the 
most material Part of your Letter must be referd, for 
the Reasons I have given, to another Opportunity. 
In the mean time I am with due Regards to the 
Gentlemen who have honord me with their Letter 
Your assured Friend & very hbl Serv 




[MS., Committee of Correspondence Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Dec r 29 1772 


Your cordial Approbation 2 of our sincere En 
deavors for the Common Safety, affords us great 
Encouragement to persevere with Alacrity in the 
Execution of our Trust. Our hands have been 
abundantly strengthend by the generous and manly 
Resolves of our worthy Brethren in the several 

1 Addressed to " Capt Ebenezer Stedman & others, a Committee of Corre 
spondence in Cambridge." 

9 Boston Gazette, December 28, 1772. 

1772] SAMUEL ADAMS. 393 

Towns who have hitherto acted. Should such Senti 
ments, which we are convincd generally prevail 
through the province, be as generally expressd, it 
must refute the insidious misrepresentation so in 
dustriously propagated on both sides of the Atlan- 
tick, that the people have not Virtue enough to resist 
the Efforts made to enslave them ! It affords us the 
greatest Satisfaction to find the Opportunity offerd 
to our Fellow Countrymen to wipe off so igno 
minious a Reproach so readily embraced. We trust 
in God, & in the Smiles of Heaven on the Justice of 
our Cause, that a Day is hastening, when the Efforts 
of the Colonists will be crownd with Success ; and the 
present Generation furnish an Example of publick 
Virtue^wprthy the Imitation of all Posterity. In this 
we are greatly encouraged, from the thorough Under 
standing of our civil & Religious Rights Liberties & 
Privileges, throughout this province : The Import 
ance of which is so obvious, that we are satisfied, 
nothing we can offer, would strengthen your Sense 
of it. 

I t gives us Pleasure to be assured from you, that 
the meetings of the Town of Cambridge on the 
Occasion have been so respectable ; as, in our Opin 
ion, it is an Evidence of their virtuous Attachment to 
the Cause of Liberty. 

It shall be our constant Endeavor to collect and 
communicate to our esteemed fellow Countrymen 
every Interresting Information we can procure ; in 
pursuance thereof we take the Liberty to inclose, 
a material Extract of a Letter from the Right 
Honorable the Earl of Dartmouth to his Honor the 

394 THE WRITINGS OF [1772 

Governor of Rhode Island, Dated White Hall, Sept. 
7 1772 ; which we have good reason to assure you 
is genuine. 1 




[MS., Committee of Correspondence Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Dec r 29 1772 

We the Committee of Correspondence for the 
Town of Boston, have receivd your kind Letters in 
closing the noble & patriotick Resolves of the Me 
tropolis of the ancient Colony of Plymouth. 

It must give singular Pleasure to the friends of 
this Country to find in all times of Difficulty & Dan 
ger, the worthy Inhabitants of Plymouth, [are] ready 
to assert the natural religious & civil Rights of the 
Colonists in general & of this by a new Charter 
united province in particular. 

Your thorough knowledge of those Rights the 
Sense you have of the many late Infractions thereof, 
the manly & becoming Spirit with which you have 
always expressd your selves on such Occasions, must 
best appear without any Comment, from your Re 
solves for a number of years past ; more especially 
your last which are before the publick Eye. 

We heartily congratulate you on the return of that 

1 The form of signature is : " Signd by order of the Committee for Corre 
spondence in Boston William Cooper, Clerk." 

2 Addressed to "Joseph Warren Esq & others a Committee of Corre 
spondence for the Town of Plymouth." 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 395 

great Anniversary, the landing of the first Settlers at 
Plymouth, & on the religious & respectful Manner, in 
which it has been celebrated. 

You may say without Vanity, and surely we may 
affirm without any such Imputation, that a handful of 
persecuted brave people, then made way for the ex 
tensive Settlement of New England : That had it not 
been for their Efforts, Virginia would have soon been 
abandoned : That the French who were then settled 
at Quebec ; & the Dutch interloping in Hudsons 
River with the Assistance they might have derived 
from the Natives, and the Aid at all times ready to be 
afforded, by the Crown of Spain, then in possession 
of South America, against the Crown of England, 
would have availd themselves of all the Continent of 
North America. And that at this very period Great 
Britain might have thought herself well off, with such 
trifling Islands as are now in the possession of the Dane. 

In pursuance of our Instruction from this Town to 
communicate any new Infractions of our Rights & 
Liberties we inclose an Extract of a Letter from 
Lord Dartmouth to the Governor of Rhode Island & 
shall take the earliest Opportunity to advise you of 
every thing Important that may occur to us. 

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Jan 2 1773. 


I wrote you on Monday last acknowledging the 
Receipt of a Letter directed to me from your self & 

396 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

other worthy Gentlemen in Providence. The Ques 
tion proposed was in what manner your Colony had 
best behave in this critical Situation & how the 
Shock that is coming upon it may be best evaded or 
sustaind. It appears to me probable that the Ad 
ministration has a design to get your Charter vacated. 
The Execution of so extraordinary a Commission, 
unknown in your Charter & abhorrent to the princi 
ples of every free Government, wherein Persons are 
appointed to enquire into Offences committed against 
a Law of another Legislature, with the Power of 
transporting the persons they shall suspect beyond 
the Seas to be tryed, would essentially change your 
Constitution ; and a Silence under such a Change 
would be construed a Submission to it. At the same 
time it must be considerd that an open declaration 
of the Assembly against the Appointment & order of 
the King, in which he is supported by an Act of the 
British Parliament, would be construed by the Law 
Servants of the Crown & other ministers such a 
Defiance of the Royal Authority, as they would 
advise proper to be recommended to the Considera 
tion & Decision of Parliament. Should your Gov 
ernor refuse to call the Commissioners together, or 
when called together, the civil magistrates refuse to 
take measures for arresting & committing to Custody 
such persons as upon Information made shall be 
chargd with being concernd in burning the Gaspee, 
or if they should issue their precepts for that purpose 
the Officers should refuse to execute them, the Event 
would be perhaps the same as in the Case of an open 
Declaration before mentiond, for in all these Cases it 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 397 

would be represented to the King & the parliament 
that it was to be attributed to what they will call the 
overbearing popularity of your Government, & the 
same pretence would be urgd for the Necessity of an 
Alteration in order to support the Kings Authority 
in the Colony. As the chiefe Object in the View of 
Administration seems to be the vacating your Charter, 
I cannot think the Commissioners in case they should 
meet together, would upon any of the aforementiond 
Occasions, chuse to call upon General Gage for the 
Aid of the Troops or make any more than the Shew 
of a Readiness to execute their Commission ; for they 
might think the grand purpose would be sufficiently 
answerd without their Discussing such danger to 
their Reputation, if not their persons. If the fore 
going Hypotheses are well grounded, I think it may 
be justly concluded that since the Constitution is 
already destined to suffer unavoidable Dissolution, 
an open & manly Determination of the Assembly 
not to consent to its ruin would show to the World 
& posterity that the people were virtuous though un 
fortunate, & sustaind the Shock with Dignity. 

You will allow me to observe, that this is a Matter 
in which the whole American Continent is deeply 
concernd and a Submission of the Colony of Rhode 
Island to this enormous Claim of power would be 
made a Precedent for all the rest ; they ought indeed 
to consider deeply their Interest in the Struggle of a 
single Colony & their Duty to afford her all practi 
cable Aid. This last is a Consideration which I shall 
not fail to mention to my particular friends when 
our Assembly shall sit the next Week. 

398 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

Should it be the determination of a weak Adminis 
tration to push this Measure to the utmost at all 
Events, and the Commissioners call in the Aid of 
troops for that purpose it would be impossible for me 
to say what might be the Consequence, Perhaps a 
most violent political Earthquake through the whole 
British Empire if not its total Destruction. 

I have long feard that this unhappy Contest be 
tween Britain & America will end in Rivers of Blood ; 
Should that be the Case, America I think may wash 
her hands in Innocence ; yet it is the highest prudence 
to prevent if possible so dreadful a Calamity. Some 
such provocation as is now offerd to Rhode Island 
will in all probability be the immediate Occasion of it. 
Let us therefore consider whether in the present Case 
the Shock that is coming upon you may not be evaded 
which is a distinct part of the Question proposed. 
For this purpose, if your Governor should omit to 
call the Commissioners together, in Consequence of 
a representation made to him by the Assembly, that 
the Innovation appears to them of a most dangerous 
Tendency ; and altogether needless, inasmuch as the 
same Enquiry might be made as effectually (and 
doubtless would be) by a Grand Jury, as is proposed 
to be made by the Commissioners ; which would be 
agreable to the Constitution & in the ordinary 
Course of Justice. A representation of this kind 
made by the Assembly to the Governor, would afford 
him a reasonable plea for suspending the Matter till 
he could fully state the Matter to Lord Dartmouth 
& the odious light in which the Commission is 
viewd by that & the other Colonies as a measure in- 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 399 

compatible with the English Constitution & the 
Rights of the Colonists together with the fatal Con 
sequences of which it might probably be productive. 
This perhaps could not be done till the rising of 
Parliament, & before the next Session a war or 
some other important Event might take place which 
would bury this Affair in Oblivion. Or if it should 
ever come before Parliament in this Manner, the 
Delay on the part of the Governor would appear to 
be made upon motives of sound prudence & the best 
Advice which would tend to soften their Spirits. 
And besides, its appearing to be founded not directly 
on the principles of Opposition to the Authority of Par 
liament, the sacred Importance of Charters upon which 
many of the Members hold their Seats, might be con- 
siderd without prejudice, & the Matter might subside 
even in Parliament. Should that be the Case it would 
disappoint the designs & naturally abate the Rigour 
of Administration & so the Shock might be evaded. 

If, without being called together by Governor 
Wanton who is first named, the rest of the Commis 
sioners should meet upon the Business of their 
Commission, which I cannot suppose they will do, 
especially if the Governor should acquaint them with 
the Reason of his not calling them, it would show a 
forward Zeal to execute an order new arbitrary & 
universally odious, & how far that, might justly in- 
sence the people against them personally, & lessen 
them in the Esteem of all judicious Men, they would 
do well calmly to consider ; and how far also they 
would be answerable for the fatal Effects that might 
follow such a forwardness all the world and Posterity 

400 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

will judge : For such an Event as this will assuredly 
go down to future Ages in the page of History, & 
the Colony & all concernd in it will be characterizd 
by the part they shall act in the Tragedy. Upon the 
whole it is my humble Opinion, that the grand Pur 
pose of Administration is either to intimidate the 
Colony into a Compliance with a Measure destructive 
of the freedom of their Constitution, or to provoke 
them to such a Step as shall give a pretext for the Va 
cation of their Charter which I should think must sound 
like Thunder in the Ears of Connecticutt especially. 
Whatever Measures the Wisdom of your Assembly 
may fix upon to evade the impending Stroke, I hope 
nothing will be done which may by the Invention of 
our Adversarys, be construed as even the Appearance 
of an Acquiescence in so grasping an Act of Tyranny. 
Thus I have freely given my Sentiments upon the 
Question proposed ; which I should not have venturd 
to do had it not been requested. I have done it with 
the greatest Diffidence because I think I am fully sensi 
ble of my Inability to enter into a Question of so 
delicate a Nature & great Importance especially as I 
have not had that opportunity to consult my friends 
which I promisd my self. I hope the Assembly of 
Rhode Island will in their Conduct exhibit an Ex 
ample of true Wisdom Fortitude & Perseverance. 
And with the greatest Respect to the Gentlemen to 
whose superior Understanding this and my former 
Letter to you is submitted, I remain 

Your assured friend 
& humble servant 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 401 

P.S. I beg just to propose for Consideration 
whether a circular Let r from your Assembly on this 
Occasion, to those of the other Colonies might not 
tend to the Advantage of the General Cause & of R 
Island in particular ; I should think it would induce 
each of them, at least to injoyn their Agents in Great 
Britain to represent the Severity of your Case in the 
strongest terms. 

To the Hon Darius Sessions Esq r 
to be communicated 


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 351-364; also printed in \hzBoston Gazette, 
February I, 1773, and in The Speeches of His Excellency Governor Hutchinson 
(Boston, 1773), pp. 33-58.] 

May it please your Excellency, 

Your Excellency s speech to the General Assembly, 
at the opening of this session, 2 has been read with 
great attention in this House. 

We fully agree with your Excellency, that our own 
happiness, as well as his Majesty s service, very much 
depends upon peace and order ; and we shall at all 
times take such measures as are consistent with our 
constitution, and the rights of the people, to promote 

1 Adams was a member of the committee appointed by the House on January 
8 to prepare this answer, and also a member of the committee appointed Janu 
ary 26 to present the answer to the Governor. 

Concerning the authorship of the answer, see W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel 
Adams , vol. ii., p. 31, and R. Frothingham, Life of Joseph Warren, p. 223. 
For a claim adverse to the authorship of Samuel Adams, see W. Tudor, Life 
of James Otis, p. 411, See also below, pages 430, 431. 

2 Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 336-342. 

VOL. ii. 26. 

402 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

and maintain them. That the government at present 
is in a very disturbed state, is apparent. But we can 
not ascribe it to the people s having adopted uncon 
stitutional principles, which seems to be the cause 
assigned for it by your Excellency. It appears to us, 
to have been occasioned rather by the British House 
of Commons assuming and exercising a power incon 
sistent with the freedom of the constitution, to give 
and grant the property of the colonists, and appro 
priate the same without their consent. 

It is needless for us to inquire what were the prin 
ciples that induced the councils of the nation to so 
new and unprecedented a measure. But, when the 
Parliament, by an act of their own, expressly declared, 
that the King, Lords, and Commons, of the nation 
" have, and of right ought to have full power and 
authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force 
and validity, to bind the colonies and people of 
America, subjects of the Crown of Great Britain, in 
all cases whatever," and in consequence hereof, an 
other revenue act was made, the minds of the people 
were filled with anxiety, and they were justly alarmed 
with apprehensions of the total extinction of their 

The result of the free inquiries of many persons, into 
the right of the Parliament, to exercise such a power 
over the colonies, seems, in your Excellency s opinion, 
to be the cause, of what you are pleased to call the 
present " disturbed state of the government ; " upon 
which, you " may not any longer, consistent with your 
duty to the King, and your regard to the interest of 
the province, delay communicating your sentiments." 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 403 

But that the principles adopted in consequence hereof, 
are unconstitutional, is a subject of inquiry. We 
know of no such disorders arising therefrom, as are 
mentioned by your Excellency. If Grand Jurors 
have not, on their oaths, found such offences, as 
your Excellency, with the advice of his Majesty s 
Council, have ordered to be prosecuted, it is to be 
presumed, they have followed the dictates of good 
conscience. They are the constitutional judges of 
these matters, and it is not to be supposed, that moved 
from corrupt principles, they have suffered offenders 
to escape a prosecution, and thus supported and en 
couraged them to go on offending. If any part of 
authority shall, in an unconstitutional manner, inter 
pose in any matter, it will be no wonder if it be 
brought into contempt ; to the lessening or confound 
ing of that subordination, which is necessary to a well 
regulated state. Your Excellency s representation 
that the bands of government are weakened, we 
humbly conceive to be without good grounds ; though 
we must own, the heavy burdens unconstitutionally 
brought upon the people, have been, and still are uni 
versally, and very justly complained of, as a grievance. 
You are pleased to say, that, " when our predeces 
sors first took possession of this plantation, or colony, 
under a grant and charter from the Crown of Eng 
land, it was their sense, and it was the sense of 
the kingdom, that they were to remain subject to the 
supreme authority of Parliament ; " whereby we un 
derstand your Excellency to mean, in the sense of 
the declaratory act of Parliament afore mentioned, 
in all cases whatever. And, indeed, it is difficult, if 

404 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

possible, to draw a line of distinction between the uni 
versal authority of Parliament over the colonies, and 
no authority at all. It is, therefore, necessary for us 
to inquire how it appears, for your Excellency has not 
shown it to us, that when, or at the time that our 
predecessors took possession of this plantation, or 
colony, under a grant and charter from the Crown of 
England, it was their sense, and the sense of the king 
dom, that they were to remain subject to the author 
ity of Parliament. In making this inquiry, we shall, 
according to your Excellency s recommendation, treat 
the subject with calmness and candor, and also with a 
due regard to truth. 

Previous to a direct consideration of the charter 
granted to the province or colony, and the better to 
elucidate the true sense and meaning of it, we would 
take a view of the state of the English North Ameri 
can continent at the time, when, and after possession 
was first taken of any part of it, by the Europeans. It 
was then possessed by heathen and barbarous people, 
who had, nevertheless, all that right to the soil, and 
sovereignty in and over the lands they possessed, 
which God had originally given to man. Whether 
their being heathen, inferred any right or authority 
to Christian princes, a right which had long been as 
sumed by the Pope, to dispose of their lands to 
others, we will leave your Excellency, or any one of 
understanding and impartial judgment, to consider. 
It is certain, they had in no other sense, forfeited 
them to any power in Europe. Should the doctrine 
be admitted, that the discovery of lands owned and 
possessed by pagan people, gives to any Christian 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 405 

prince a right and title to the dominion and property, 
still it is vested in the Crown alone. x lt was an acqui 
sition of foreign territory, not annexed to the realm 
of England, and, therefore, at the absolute disposal of 
the Crown. For we take it to be a settled point, that 
the King has a constitutional prerogative, to dispose 
of and alienate, any part of his territories not an 
nexed to the realm./ In exercise of this prerogative, 
Queen Elizabeth granted the first American charter ; 
and, claiming a right by virtue of discovery, then sup 
posed to be valid, to the lands which are now pos 
sessed by the colony of Virginia, she conveyed to Sir 
Walter Rawleigh, the property, dominion, and sov 
ereignty thereof, to be held of the Crown, by hom 
age, and a certain render, without any reservation to 
herself, of any share in the Legislative and Executive 
authority. After the attainder of Sir Walter, King 
James the I. created two Virginian companies, to be 
governed each by laws, transmitted to them by his 
Majesty, and not by the Parliament, with power to 
establish, and cause to be made, a coin to pass cur 
rent among them ; and vested with all liberties, fran 
chises and immunities, within any of his other 
dominions, to all intents and purposes, as if they had 
been abiding and born within the realm. A declara 
tion similar to this, is contained in the first charter of 
this colony, and in those of other American colonies, 
which shows that the colonies were not intended, or 
considered to be within the realm of England, though 
within the allegiance of the English Crown. After 
this, another charter was granted by the same King 
James, to the Treasurer and Company of Virginia, 

406 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

vesting them with full power and authority, to make, 
ordain, and establish, all manner of orders, laws, 
directions, instructions, forms and ceremonies of gov 
ernments, and magistracy, fit and necessary, and the 
same to abrogate, &c. without any reservation for se 
curing their subjection to Parliament, and future laws 
of England. A third charter was afterwards granted 
by the same King, to the Treasurer and Company of 
Virginia, vesting them with full power and authority 
to make laws, with an addition of this clause, u so, al 
ways, that the same be not contrary to the laws and 
statutes of this our realm of England." The same 
clause was afterwards copied into the charter of this 
and other colonies, with certain variations, such as, 
that these laws should be " consonant to reason," 
" not repugnant to the laws of England," " as nearly 
as conveniently may be to the laws, statutes and 
rights of England," &c. These modes of expression, 
convey the same meaning, and serve to show an in 
tention, that the laws of the colonies should be as 
much as possible, conformable in the spirit of them, 
to the principles and fundamental laws of the English 
constitution, its rights and statutes then in being, 
and by no means to bind the colonies to a subjection 
to the supreme authority of the English Parliament. 
And that this is the true intention, we think it further 
evident from this consideration, that no acts of any 
colony Legislative, are ever brought into Parliament 
for inspection there, though the laws made in some of 
them, like the acts of the British Parliament, are laid 
before the King for his dissent or allowance. 

We have brought the first American charters into 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 407 

view, and the state of the country when they were 
granted, to show, that the right of disposing of the 
lands was, in the opinion of those times, vested 
solely in the Crown ; that the several charters con 
veyed to the grantees, who should settle upon the 
territories therein granted, all the powers necessary 
to constitute them free and distinct states ; and that 
the fundamental laws of the English constitution 
should be the certain and established rule of legisla 
tion, to which, the laws to be made in the several 
colonies, were to be, as nearly as conveniently might 
be, conformable, or similar, which was the true intent 
and import of the words, " not repugnant to the laws 
of England," "consonant to reason," and other vari 
ant expressions in the different charters. And we 
would add, that the King, in some of the charters, re 
serves the right to judge of the consonance and simi 
larity of their laws with the English constitution, to 
himself, and not to the Parliament ; and, in conse 
quence thereof, to affirm, or within a limited time, 
disallow them. 

These charters, as well as that afterwards granted 
to Lord Baltimore, and other charters, are repugnant 
to the idea of Parliamentary authority ; and, to sup 
pose a Parliamentary authority over the colonies, 
under such charters, would necessarily induce that 
solecism in politics, imperium in imperio. And the 
King s repeatedly exercising the prerogative of dis 
posing of the American territory by such charters, 
together with the silence of the nation thereupon, is 
an evidence that it was an acknowledged prerogative. 

But, further to show the sense of the English 

408 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

Crown and nation, that the American colonists, and 
our predecessors in particular, when they first took 
possession of this country, by a grant and charter 
from the Crown, did not remain subject to the su 
preme authority of Parliament, we beg leave to ob 
serve, that when a bill was offered by the two Houses 
of Parliament to King Charles the I. granting to the 
subjects of England, the free liberty of fishing on the 
coast of America, he refused his royal assent, declar 
ing as a reason, that " the colonies were without the 
realm and jurisdiction of Parliament." 

In like manner, his predecessor, James the I. 
had before declared, upon a similar occasion, that 
" America was not annexed to the realm, and it was 
not fitting that Parliament should make laws for those 
countries." This reason was, not secretly, but openly 
declared in Parliament. If, then, the colonies were 
not annexed to the realm, at the time when their 
charters were granted, they never could afterwards, 
without their own special consent, which has never 
since been had, or even asked. If they are not now 
annexed to the realm, they are not a part of the 
kingdom, and consequently not subject to the Legis 
lative authority of the kingdom. For no country, by 
the common law, was subject to the laws or to the 
Parliament, but the realm of England. 

We would, if your Excellency pleases, subjoin an 
instance of conduct in King Charles the II. singular 
indeed, but important to our purpose, who, in 1769, 
framed an act for a permanent revenue for the sup 
port of Virginia, and sent it there by Lord Culpepper, 
the Governor of that colony, which was afterwards 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 409 

passed into a law, and " enacted by the King s most 
excellent Majesty, by, and with the consent of the 
General Assembly of Virginia." If the King had 
judged the colony to be a part of the realm, he would 
not, nor could he, consistently with Magna Charta, 
have placed himself at the head of, and joined with 
any Legislative body in making a law to tax the 
people there, other than the Lords and Commons of 

Having taken a view of the several charters of the 
first colony in America, if we look into the old charter 
of this colony, we shall find it to be grounded on the 
same principle ; that the right of disposing the terri 
tory granted therein, was vested in the Crown, as 
being that Christian Sovereign who first discovered it, 
when in the possession of heathens ; and that it was 
considered as being not within the realm, but being 
only within the Fee and Seignory of the King. As, 
therefore, it was without the realm of England, must 
not the King, if he had designed that the Parliament 
should have any authority over it, have made special 
reservation for that purpose, which was not done ? 

Your Excellency says, " it appears from the charter 
itself, to have been the sense of our predecessors, 
who first took possession of this plantation, or colony, 
that they were to remain subject to the authority of 
Parliament." You have not been pleased to point 
out to us, how this appears from the charter, unless it 
be in the observation you make on the above men 
tioned clause, viz.: " that a favorable construction has 
been put upon this clause, when it has been allowed 
to intend such laws of England only, as are expressly 

410 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

made to respect us," which you say, "is by charter, a 
reserve of power and authority to Parliament, to bind 
us by such laws, at least, as are made expressly to re 
fer to us, and consequently is a limitation of the 
power given to the General Court." But, we would 
still recur to the charter itself, and ask your Excel 
lency, how this appears, from thence, to have been 
the sense of our predecessors ? Is any reservation of 
power and authority to Parliament thus to bind us, 
expressed or implied in the charter ? It is evident, 
that King Charles the I. the very Prince who granted 
it, as well as his predecessor, had no such idea of the 
supreme authority of Parliament over the colony, 
from their declarations before recited. Your Excel 
lency will then allow us, further to ask, by what 
authority, in reason or equity, the Parliament can en 
force a construction so unfavorable to us. Quod ab 
initio injustum est, nullum potest habere juris cffec- 
tum, said Grotius. Which, with submission to your 
Excellency, may be rendered thus : whatever is origi 
nally in its nature wrong, can never be sanctified, or 
made right by repetition and use. 

In solemn agreements, subsequent restrictions 
ought never to be allowed. The celebrated author, 
whom your Excellency has quoted, tells us, that, 
" neither the one or the other of the interested, or 
contracting powers, hath a right to interpret at pleas 
ure." This we mention, to show, even upon a sup 
position, that the Parliament had been a party to the 
contract, the invalidity of any of its subsequent acts, 
to explain any clause in the charter ; more especially 
to restrict or make void any clause granted therein to 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 41 r 

the General Court. An agreement ought to be in 
terpreted " in such a manner as that it may have its 
effect." But, if your Excellency s interpretation of 
this clause is just, " that it is a reserve of power and 
authority to Parliament to bind us by such laws as are 
made expressly to refer to us," it is not only " a limi 
tation of the power given to the General Court " to 
legislate, but it may, whenever the Parliament shall 
think fit, render it of no effect ; for it puts it in the 
power of Parliament, to bind us by as many laws as 
they please, and even to restrain us from making any 
laws at all. If your Excellency s assertions in this, 
and the next succeeding part of your speech, were 
well grounded, the conclusion would be undeniable, 
that the charter, even in this clause, " does not confer 
or reserve any liberties," worth enjoying, " but what 
would have been enjoyed without it ; " saving that, 
within any of his Majesty s dominions, we are to be 
considered barely as not aliens. You are pleased to say, 
it cannot " be contended, that by the liberties of free 
and natural subjects," (which are expressly granted 
in the charter, to all intents, purposes and construc 
tions, whatever,) " is to be understood, an exemption 
from acts of Parliament, because not represented 
there ; seeing it is provided by the same charter, that 
such acts shall be in force." If, says an eminent law 
yer, " the King grants to the town of D. the same 
liberties which London has, this shall be intended the 
like liberties." A grant of the liberties of free and 
natural subjects, is equivalent to a grant of the same 
liberties. And the King, in the first charter to this 
colony, expressly grants, that it " shall be construed, 

4 i2 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

reputed and adjudged in all cases, most favorably on 
the behalf and for the benefit and behoof of the said 
Governor and Company, and their successors any 
matter, cause or thing, whatsover, to the contrary not 
withstanding." It is one of the liberties of free and 
natural subjects, born and abiding within the realm, 
to be governed, as your Excellency observes, " by 
laws made by persons, in whose elections they, from 
time to time, have a voice." This is an essential 
right. For nothing is more evident, than, that any 
people, who are subject to the unlimited power of 
another, must be in a state of abject slavery. It was 
easily and plainly foreseen, that the right of represen 
tation in the English Parliament, could not be exer 
cised by the people of this colony. It would be 
impracticable, if consistent with the English constitu 
tion. And for this reason, that this colony might 
have and enjoy all the liberties and immunities of 
free and natural subjects within the realm, as stipu 
lated in the charter, it was necessary, and a Legisla 
tive was accordingly constituted within the colony ; 
one branch of which, consists of Representatives 
chosen by the people, to make all laws, statutes, or 
dinances, &c. for the well ordering and governing 
the same, not repugnant to the laws of England, or, 
as nearly as conveniently might be, agreeable to the 
fundamental laws of the English constitution. We 
are, therefore, still at a loss to conceive, where your 
Excellency finds it " provided in the same charter, 
that such acts," viz. acts of Parliament, made ex 
pressly to refer to us, " shall be in force " in this 
province. There is nothing to this purpose, ex- 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 413 

pressed in the charter, or in our opinion, even im 
plied in it. And surely it would be very absurd, that 
a charter, which is evidently formed upon a supposi 
tion and intention, that a colony is and should be con 
sidered as not within the realm ; and declared by the 
very Prince who granted it, to be not within the juris 
diction of Parliament, should yet provide, that the laws 
which the same Parliament should make, expressly 
to refer to that colony, should be in force therein. 
Your Excellency is pleased to ask, " does it follow, 
that the government, by their (our ancestors) removal 
from one part of the dominion to another, loses its 
authority over that part to which they removed ; and 
that they are freed from the subjection they were 
under before ? " We answer, if that part of the King s 
dominions, to which they removed, was not then a 
part of the realm, and was never annexed to it, the 
Parliament lost no authority over it, having never 
had such authority ; and the emigrations were conse 
quently freed from the subjection they were under 
before their removal. The power and authority of 
Parliament, being constitutionally confined within the 
limits of the realm, and the nation collectively, of which 
alone it is the representing and Legislative Assembly. 
Your Excellency further asks, " will it not rather be 
said, that by this, their voluntary removal, they have 
relinquished, fora time, at least, one of the rights of an 
English subject, which they might, if they pleased, have 
continued to enjoy, and may again enjoy, whenever 
they return to the place where it can be exercised ? " 
To which we answer ; they never did relinquish the 
right to be governed by laws, made by persons in 

414 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

whose election they had a voice. The King stipu 
lated with them, that they should have and enjoy all 
the liberties of free and natural subjects, born within 
the realm, to all intents, purposes and constructions, 
whatsoever ; that is, that they should be as free as 
those, who were to abide within the realm : conse 
quently, he stipulated with them, that they should 
enjoy and exercise this most essential right, which dis 
criminates freemen from vassals, uninterruptedly, in 
its full sense and meaning ; and they did, and ought 
still to exercise it, without the necessity of returning, 
for the sake of exercising it, to the nation or state of 

We cannot help observing, that your Excellency s 
manner of reasoning on this point, seems to us, to 
render the most valuable clauses in our charter unin 
telligible : as if persons going from the realm of 
England, to inhabit in America, should hold and exer 
cise there a certain right of English subjects ; but, in 
order to exercise it in such manner as to be of any 
benefit to them, they must not inhabit there, but 
return to the place where alone it can be exercised 
By such construction, the words of the charter can 
have no sense or meaning. We forbear remarking 
upon the absurdity of a grant to persons born with 
out the realm, of the same liberties which would 
have belonged to them, if they had been born within 
the realm. 

Your Excellency is disposed to compare this gov 
ernment to the variety of corporations, formed within 
the kingdom, with power to make and execute by 
laws, &c.; and, because they remain subject to the 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 415 

supreme authority of Parliament, to infer, that this 
colony is also subject to the same authority : this 
reasoning appears to us not just. The members of 
those corporations are resident within the kingdom ; 
and residence subjects them to the authority of Par 
liament, in which they are also represented ; whereas 
the people of this colony are not resident within the 
realm. The charter was granted, with the express 
purpose to induce them to reside without the realm ; 
consequently, they are not represented in Parliament 
there. But, we would ask your Excellency, are any 
of the corporations, formed within the kingdom, vested 
with the power of erecting other subordinate corpora 
tions ? of enacting and determining what crimes shall 
be capital ? and constituting courts of common law, 
with all their officers, for the hearing, trying and pun 
ishing capital offenders with death ? These and 
many other powers vested in this government, plainly 
show, that it is to be considered as a corporation, in 
no other light, than as every state is a corporation. 
Besides, appeals from the courts of law here, are not 
brought before the House of Lords; which shows, 
that the peers of the realm, are not the peers of 
America : but all such appeals are brought before the 
King in council, which is a further evidence, that we 
are not within the realm. 

We conceive enough has been said, to convince 
your Excellency, that, "when our predecessors first 
took possession of this plantation, or colony, by a 
grant and charter from the Crown of England, it was 
not, and never had been the sense of the kingdom, 
that they were to remain subject to the supreme 

4 i6 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

authority of Parliament. We will now, with your 
Excellency s leave, inquire what was the sense of our 
ancestors, of this very important matter. 

And, as your Excellency has been pleased to tell 
us, you have not discovered, that the supreme author 
ity of Parliament has been called in question, even by 
private and particular persons, until within seven or 
eight years past ; except about the time of the anarchy 
and confusion in England, which preceded the resto 
ration of King Charles the II. we beg leave to remind 
your Excellency of some parts of your own history of 
Massachusetts Bay. Therein we are informed of the 
sentiments of " persons of influence," after the resto 
ration ; from which, the historian tells us, some parts 
of their conduct, that is, of the General Assembly, 
" may be pretty well accounted for." By the history, 
it appears to have been the opinion of those persons 
of influence, " that the subjects of any prince or state, 
had a natural right to remove to any other state, or 
to another quarter of the world, unless the state was 
weakened or exposed by such remove ; and, even in 
that case, if they were deprived of the right of all 
mankind, liberty of conscience, it would justify a sep 
aration, and upon their removal, their subjection de 
termined and ceased." That " the country to which 
they had removed, was claimed and possessed by 
independent princes, whose right to the lordship and 
sovereignty thereof had been acknowledged by the 
Kings of England," an instance of which is quoted in 
the margin. "That they themselves had actually 
purchased, for valuable consideration, not only the 
soil, but the dominion, the lordship and sovereignty 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 417 

of those princes;" without which purchase, "in the 
sight of God and men, they had no right or title to 
what they possessed." They had received a charter 
of incorporation from the King, from whence arose a 
new kind of subjection, namely, "a voluntary, civil 
subjection ; " and by this compact, " they were to be 
governed by laws made by themselves." Thus it ap 
pears to have been the sentiments of private persons, 
though persons by whose sentiments the public con 
duct was influenced, that their removal was a justi 
fiable separation from the mother state, upon which, 
their subjection to that state, determined and ceased. 
The supreme authority of Parliament, if it had then 
ever been asserted, must surely have been called in 
question, by men who had advanced such principles 

The first act of Parliament, made expressly to refer 
to the colonies, was after the restoration. In the 
reign of King Charles the II. several such acts passed. 
And the same history informs us, there was a difficulty 
in conforming to them ; and the reason of this diffi 
culty is explained in a letter of the General Assembly 
to their Agent, quoted in the following words ; " they 
apprehended them to be an invasion of the rights, 
liberties and properties of the subjects of his Majesty, 
in the colony, they not being represented in Parlia 
ment, and according to the usual sayings of the learned 
in the law, the laws of England were bounded within 
the four seas, and did not reach America : However, 
as his Majesty had signified his pleasure, that those 
acts should be observed in the Massachusetts, they 
had made provision, by a law of the colony, that they 

VOL. II. 27. 

4 i8 "THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

should be strictly attended." 1 Which provision, by a 
law of their own, would have been superfluous, if they 
had admitted the supreme authority of Parliament. 
In short, by the same history it appears, that those 
acts of Parliament, as such, were disregarded ; and 
the following reason is given for it : " It seems to 
have been a general opinion, that acts of Parliament 
have no other force, than what they derived from acts 
made by the General Court, to establish and confirm 

But, still further to show the sense of our ancestors, 
respecting this matter, we beg leave to recite some 
parts of a narrative, presented to the Lords of Privy 
Council, by Edward Randolph, in the year 1676, 
which we find in your Excellency s collection of papers 
lately published. 2 Therein 3 it is declared to be the 
sense of the colony, " that no law is in force or esteem 
there, but such as are made by the General Court ; 
and, therefore, it is accounted a breach of their privi 
leges, and a betraying of the liberties of their com 
monwealth, to urge the observation of the laws of 
England." And, further, " that no oath shall be urged, 
or required to be taken by any person, but such oath 
as the General Court hath considered, allowed and 
required." And, further, "there is no notice taken of 
the act of navigation, plantation or any other laws, 
made in England for the regulation of trade." " That 
the government would make the world believe, they 

1 T. Hutchinson, History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol. i., p. 322. 

9 A Collection of Original Papers Relative to the History of the Colony of 
Massachusetts Bay. Boston, 1769. Reprinted by the Prince Society, 2 vols., 
Albany, 1865, under the title The Hutchinson Papers. 

3 The Hutchinson Papers, vol, ii., pp. 210 et seq. 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 419 

are a free state, and do act in all matters accordingly." 
Again, " these magistrates ever reserve to themselves, 
a power to alter, evade and disannul any law or com 
mand, not agreeing with their humor, or the absolute 
authority of their government, acknowledging no su 
perior." And, further, " he (the Governor) freely 
declared to me, that the laws made by your Majesty 
and your Parliament, obligeth them in nothing, but 
what consists with the interests of that colony ; that 
the Legislative power and authority is, and abides in 
them solely." And in the same Mr. Randolph s letter 
to the Bishop of London, July 14, 1682, he says, 
" this independency in government is claimed and 
daily practised." l And your Excellency being then 
sensible, that this was the sense of our ancestors, in a 
marginal note, in the same collection of papers, ob 
serves, that, "this, viz. the provision made for observ 
ing the acts of trade, is very extraordinary, for this 
provision was an act of the colony, declaring the acts 
of trade shall be in force there." Although Mr. Ran 
dolph was very unfriendly to the colony, yet, as his de 
clarations are concurrent with those recited from your 
Excellency s history, we think they may be admitted, 
for the purpose for which they are now brought. 

Thus we see, from your Excellency s history and 
publications, the sense our ancestors had of the juris 
diction of Parliament, under the first charter. Very 
different from that, which your Excellency in your 
speech, apprehends it to have been. 

It appears by Mr. Neal s History of New England, 
that the agents, who had been employed by the colony 

1 The Hutchinson Papers, vol. ii., p. 281. 

420 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

to transact its affairs in England, at the time when 
the present charter was granted, among other reasons, 
gave the following for their acceptance of it, viz. 
" The General Court has, with the King s approba 
tion, as much power in New England, as the King 
and Parliament have in England ; they have all Eng 
lish privileges, and can be touched by no law, and by 
no tax but of their own making." * This is the earliest 
testimony that can be given of the sense our prede 
cessors had of the supreme authority of Parliament, 
under the present charter. And it plainly shows, 
that they, who having been freely conversant with 
those who framed the charter, must have well under 
stood the design and meaning of it, supposed that 
the terms in our charter, " full power and authority," 
intended and were considered as a sole and exclusive 
power, and that there was no " reserve in the charter, 
to the authority of Parliament, to bind the colony " 
by any acts whatever. 

Soon after the arrival of the charter, viz. in 1692, 
your Excellency s history informs us, 2 " the first act " 
of this Legislative, was a sort of Magna Charta, as 
serting and setting forth their general privileges, and 
this clause was among the rest ; " no aid, tax, tallage, 
assessment, custom, loan, benevolence, or imposition 
whatever, shall be laid, assessed, imposed, or levied 
on any of their Majesty s subjects, or their estates, on 
any pretence whatever, but by the act and consent of 
the Governor, Council, and Representatives of the 
people assembled in General Court." And though 

1 Daniel Neal, History of New England. London, 1720, vol. ii., p. 479. 

2 T. Hutchinson, History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay , vol, ii., p. 64. 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 421 

this act was disallowed, it serves to show the sense 
which the General Assembly, contemporary with the 
granting the charter, had of their sole and exclusive 
right to legislate for the colony. The history says, 
" the other parts of the act were copied from Magna 
Charta ; " by which, we may conclude that the As 
sembly then construed the words, " not repugnant to 
the laws," to mean, conformable to the fundamental 
principles of the English constitution. And it is 
observable, that the Lords of Privy Council, so 
lately as in the reign of Queen Anne, when several 
laws enacted by the General Assembly were laid be 
fore her Majesty for her allowance, interpreted the 
words in this charter, " not repugnant to the laws 
of England," by the words, " as nearly as con 
veniently may be agreeable to the laws and statutes 
of England." And her Majesty was pleased to dis 
allow those acts, not because they were repugnant to 
any law or statute of England, made expressly to 
refer to the colony, but because divers persons, by 
virtue thereof, were punished, without being tried by 
their peers in the ordinary " courts of law," and " by 
the ordinary rules and known methods of justice," 
contrary to the express terms of Magna Charta, 
which was a statute in force at the time of granting 
the charter, and declaratory of the rights and liberties 
of the subjects within the realm. 

You are pleased to say, that " our provincial or 
local laws have, in numerous instances, had relation 
to acts of Parliament, made to respect the planta 
tions, and this colony in particular." The authority 
of the Legislature, says the same author who is 

422 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

quoted by your Excellency, " does not extend so far 
as the fundamentals of the constitution. They ought 
to consider the fundamental laws as sacred, if the 
nation has not in very express terms, given them the 
power to change them. For the constitution of the 
state ought to be fixed ; and since that was first 
established by the nation, which afterwards trusted 
certain persons with the Legislative power, the funda 
mental laws are excepted from their commission." 
Now the fundamentals of the constitution of this 
province, are stipulated in the charter ; the reason 
ing, therefore, in this case, holds equally good. Much 
less, then, ought any acts or doings of the General 
Assembly, however numerous, to neither of which 
your Excellency has pointed us, which barely relate 
to acts of Parliament made to respect the plantations 
in general, or this colony in particular, to be taken as 
an acknowledgment of this people, or even of the 
Assembly, which inadvertently passed those acts, that 
we are subject to the supreme authority of Parlia 
ment ; and with still less reason are the decisions in 
the executive courts to determine this point. If they 
have adopted that " as part of the rule of law," which, 
in fact, is not, it must be imputed to inattention or 
error in judgment, and cannot justly be urged as an 
alteration or restriction of the Legislative authority 
of the province. 

Before we leave this part of your Excellency s 
speech, we would observe, that the great design of 
our ancestors in leaving the kingdom of England, 
was to be freed from a subjection to its spiritual laws 
and courts, and to worship God according to the 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 423 

dictates of their consciences. Your Excellency, in 
your history observes, that their design was " to 
obtain for themselves and their posterity, the liberty 
of worshipping God in such manner as appeared to 
them most agreeable to the sacred scriptures." And 
the General Court themselves declared in 1651, that 
" seeing just cause to fear the persecution of the then 
Bishop, and high commission for not conforming to 
the ceremonies of those under their power, they 
thought it their safest course, to get to this outside 
of the world, out of their view and beyond their 
reach." But, if it had been their sense, that they 
were still to be subject to the supreme authority of 
Parliament, they must have known that their design 
might, and probably would be frustrated ; that the 
Parliament, especially considering the temper of those 
times, might make what ecclesiastical laws they 
pleased, expressly to refer to them, and place them 
in the same circumstances with respect to religious 
matters, to be relieved from which, was the design of 
their removal ; and we would add, that if your Ex 
cellency s construction of the clause in our present 
charter is just, another clause therein, which provides 
for liberty of conscience for all christians, except 
papists, may be rendered void by an act of Parlia 
ment made to refer to us, requiring a conformity to 
the rights and mode of worship in the church of 
England, or any other. 

Thus we have endeavored to show the sense of 
the people of this colony under both charters ; and, 
if there have been in any late instances a submission 
to acts of Parliament, it has been, in our opinion, 

424 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

rather from inconsideration, or a reluctance at the 
idea of contending with the parent state, than from a 
conviction or acknowledgment of the Supreme Legis 
lative authority of Parliament. 

Your Excellency tells us, "you know of no line 
that can be drawn between the supreme authority of 
Parliament and the total independence of the colo 
nies." If there be no such line, the consequence is, 
either that the colonies are the vassals of the Parlia 
ment, or that they are totally independent. As it 
cannot be supposed to have been the intention of the 
parties in the compact, that we should be reduced to 
a state of vassalage, the conclusion is, that it was 
their sense that we were thus independent. " It is 
impossible," your Excellency says, " that there should 
be two independent Legislatures in one and the same 
state." May we not then further conclude, that it 
was their sense, that the colonies were, by their 
charters, made distinct states from the mother coun 
try ? Your Excellency adds, "for although there 
may be but one head, the King, yet the two Legis 
lative bodies will make two governments as distinct 
as the kingdoms of England and Scotland, before 
the union." Very true, may it please your Excel 
lency ; and if they interfere not with each other, what 
hinders, but that being united in one head and com 
mon Sovereign, they may live happily in that connec 
tion, and mutually support and protect each other? 
Notwithstanding all the terrors which your Excel 
lency has pictured to us as the effects of a total 
independence, there is more reason to dread the con 
sequences of absolute uncontroled power, whether of 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 425 

a nation or a monarch, than those of a total inde 
pendence. It would be a misfortune "to know by 
experience, the difference between the liberties of an 
English colonist and those of the Spanish, French, 
and Dutch " : and since the British Parliament has 
passed an act, which is executed even with rigor, 
though not voluntarily submitted to, for raising a 
revenue, and appropriating the same, without the 
consent of the people who pay it, and have claimed a 
power of making such laws as they please, to order 
and govern us, your Excellency will excuse us in ask 
ing, whether you do not think we already experience 
too much of such a difference, and have not reason to 
fear we shall soon be reduced to a worse situation than 
that of the colonies of France, Spain, or Holland? 

If your Excellency expects to have the line of dis 
tinction between the supreme authority of Parlia 
ment, and the total independence of the colonies 
drawn by us, we would say it would be an arduous 
undertaking, and of very great importance to all the 
other colonies ; and therefore, could we conceive of 
such a line, we should be unwilling to propose it, 
without their consent in Congress. 

To conclude, these are great and profound ques 
tions. It is the grief of this House, that, by the ill 
policy of a late injudicious administration, America 
has been driven into the contemplation of them. 
And we cannot but express our concern, that your 
Excellency, by your speech, has reduced us to the 
unhappy alternative, either of appearing by our 
silence to acquiesce in your Excellency s sentiments, 
or of thus freely discussing this point. 

426 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

After all that we have said, we would be far from 
being understood to have in the least abated that 
just sense of allegiance which we owe to the King of 
Great Britain, our rightful Sovereign ; and should 
the people of this province be left to the free and 
full exercise of all the liberties and immunities granted 
to them by charter, there would be no danger of an 
independence on the Crown. Our charters reserve 
great power to the Crown in its Representative, fully 
sufficient to balance, analogous to the English con 
stitution, all the liberties and privileges granted to 
the people. All this your Excellency knows full well ; 
and whoever considers the power and influence, in 
all their branches, reserved by our charter, to the 
Crown, will be far from thinking that the Commons 
of this province are too independent. 


[MS., Committee of Correspondence Papers, Lenox Library.] 

BOSTON Feb r y 9 1773 

The Committee of Correspondence have now be 
fore them the Letter of the Town of Lynn, & will, 
agreable to their desire, lay it before this Town. 
We heartily joyn with you in wishing the glorious 
spirit of Liberty which now animates the Inhabitants 
of this Province shall be diffused through the Colo 
nies, & happily Effect the restoration of their Rights, 
which are cruelly ravishd from them. 

Addressed to Ebenezer Burrill, town clerk. 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 427 

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.] 

[February , 1773.] 


As I am informd the Commissioners are all now in 
Newport, and your Assembly is to meet this day I am 
anxious to know precisely the Steps that are or shall 
be taken by each. I hope your Governor will not 
think it proper for him to act in the Commission if 
the others should determine so to do. Will it not be 
construed as conceding on his part to the Legality of 
it ? Every Movement on the Side of the Commis 
sioners & the Assembly must be important. I trust 
no Concessions will be made on your part which shall 
have the remotest tendency to fix a precedent ; for if 
it is once establishd, a thousand Commissions of the 
like arbitrary kind may be introducd to the utter ruin 
of your free Constitution. The promoters of minis 
terial measures in this Town are pleasd to hear from 
one of the Commissioners that they are treated with 
great respect : Even common Civility will be thus 
colourd to serve the great purpose. Will it not be 
necessary at all Events for the] Assembly to enter a 
protest on their Journal against so unconstitutional a 
proceeding. This is the Sentiment of a Gentleman 
here whose Judgment I very much regard. Such has 
been the constant practice of the Assembly of this 
province in like Cases, for some years past. You will 
see by our Governors Speech what Use is made of 
Mistakes of this Sort ; they are even improved as 

1 See above, page 389, note. 

428 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

Arguments of our having voluntarily consented to be 
the Vassals of the British Parliament. Indeed the 
Doctrine he has advancd strikes at the root of every 
civil Constitution in America. If it be admissible, 
yo^i have no just Cause to complain of the present 
Measure for it is founded upon the Authority of that 
parliament, to the Jurisdiction of which notwithstand 
ing your Charter, you remain subject. 

I shall receive a Letter from you by the return of 
the post if your Attention to the publick Affairs will 
admit of it, as a great favor. In the mean time I beg 
you to excuse this hasty Scrawl & believe me to 
be& c 


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 366, 367; printed also in the Gentleman s 
Magazine, vol. xliii., pp. 198, 199.] 

May it please your Excellency, 

Your message of the 4th instant, 2 informs this 
House, that his Majesty has been pleased to order 
that salaries shall be allowed to the Justices of the 
Superior Court of this province. 

We conceive that no Judge, who has a due regard 
to justice, or even to his own character, would choose 
to be placed under such an undue bias as they must 
be under, in the opinion of this House, by accepting 

1 Stated to have been written by Adams, in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel 
Adams, vol. ii., p. 47, but with no authority given. 

2 Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 365, 366. 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 429 

of, and becoming dependent for their salaries upon 
the Crown. 

Had not his Majesty been misinformed, with re 
spect to the constitution and appointment of our 
Judges, by those who advised to this measure, we 
are persuaded, he would never have passed such an 
order ; as he was pleased to declare, upon his accession 
to the throne, that " he looked upon the indepen 
dence and uprightness of the Judges, as essential to 
the impartial administration of justice, as one of the 
best securities of the rights and liberties of his sub 
jects, and as most conducive to the honor of the 

Your Excellency s precaution to prevent all claim 
from the province for any services, for which the Jus 
tices may also be entitled to a salary from the King, 
is comparatively, of very small consideration with us. 

When we consider the many attempts that have 
been made, effectually to render null and void those 
clauses in our charter, upon which the freedom of 
our constitution depends, we should be lost to all 
public feeling, should we not manifest a just resent 
ment. We are more and more convinced, that it 
has been the design of administration, totally to 
subvert the constitution, and introduce an arbitrary 
government into this province ; and we cannot wonder 
that the apprehensions of this people are thoroughly 

We wait with impatience to know, and hope your 
Excellency will very soon be able to assure us, that 
the Justices will utterly refuse ever to accept of 
support, in a manner so justly obnoxious to the 

430 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

disinterested and judicious part of the good people 
of this province, being repugnant to the charter, and 
utterly inconsistent with the safety of the rights, 
liberties and properties of the people. 


[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy, Mass. ; a facsimile is in Works of John Adams, 

vol. ii., p. 310.] 


If you have had Leisure to commit your Thoughts 
to writing agreable to my request I shall be obligd 
if you will send them by the Bearer. The Gov r says 
the House have incautiously applied a rule of the 
Common Law 2 (see the 4 th Coll. of his Speech). 
The Assertion is mine, upon your Authority as I 
thought. If it be vindicable, pray give me your Aid 
in that as briefly as you please. I am sorry to trouble 
you at a time when I know you must be much engagd 
but to tell you a Secret, if there be a Lawyer in the 
house in Major Hawleys Absence, there is no one 
whom I incline to confide in. 

Monday Ev g 

Presumably written on February 22 or March I, 1773. Cf. W. V. Wells, 
Life of Samuel Adams, vol. ii., p. 41. 

2 Speech of February 16, 1773. Massachusetts State Papers, p. 374. See 
ibid., p. 387. 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 431 


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 384-396; printed also in the Boston Gazette, 
March 8, 1773, and in The Speeches of His Excellency Governor Hutchinson, 
pp. 90-113-] 

May it please your Excellency, 

In your speech, at the opening of the present ses 
sion 2 , your Excellency expressed your displeasure, at 
some late proceedings of the town of Boston, and 
other principal towns in the province. And, in an 
other speech 3 to both Houses, we have your repeated 
exceptions at the same proceedings, as being " unwar 
rantable," and of a dangerous nature and tendency; 
" against which, you thought yourself bound to call 
upon us to join with you in bearing a proper testi 
mony." This House have not discovered any prin 
ciples advanced by the town of Boston, that are 
unwarrantable by the constitution ; nor does it appear 
to us, that they have " invited every other town and 
district in the province, to adopt their principles." 
We are fully convinced, that it is our duty to bear our 
testimony against " innovations, of a dangerous nature 
and tendency ; " but, it is clearly our opinion, that it 
is the indisputable right of all, or any of his Majesty s 
subjects, in this province, regularly and orderly to 
meet together, to state the grievances they labor 

1 Hutchinson is the principal authority for the statement that this document, 
as well as that of January 26, 1773, was prepared by Adams. C/. t R. Froth- 
ingham, Life of Joseph Warren, p. 223. W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel 
Adams, vol. ii., p. 45. An instance of the later recognition of this claim is 
in Publications, Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. vi., p. 170. And see 
also above, pages 401, 430. 

2 Massachusetts State P : apers, p. 338. 

3 Ibid., pp. 368-381. February 16. 

432 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

under ; and, to propose, and unite in such constitu 
tional measures, as they shall judge necessary or 
proper, to obtain redress. This right has been fre 
quently exercised by his Majesty s subjects within the 
realm ; and, we do not recollect an instance, since the 
happy revolution, when the two Houses of Parliament 
have been called upon to discountenance, or bear their 
testimony against it, in a speech from the throne. 

Your Excellency is pleased to take notice of some 
things, which we " allege," in our answer to your 
first speech ; and, the observation you make, we must 
confess, is as natural, and undeniably true, as any 
one that could have been made ; that, " if our founda 
tion shall fail us in every part of it, the fabric we 
have raised upon it, must certainly fall." You think 
this foundation will fail us ; but, we wish your Excel 
lency had condescended to a consideration of what 
we have adduced in support of our principles." We 
might then, perhaps, have had some things offered 
for our conviction, more than bare affirmations ; 
which, we must beg to be excused, if we say, are far 
from being sufficient, though they came with your 
Excellency s authority, for which, however, we have 
a due regard. 

Your Excellency says, that, " as English subjects, 
and agreeable to the doctrine of the feudal tenure, all 
our lands are held mediately, or immediately, of the 
Crown." We trust, your Excellency does not mean 
to introduce the feudal system in its perfection ; 
which, to use the words of one of our greatest histo 
rians, was " a state of perpetual war, anarchy, and con 
fusion, calculated solely for defence against the assaults 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 433 

of any foreign power ; but, in its provision for the in 
terior order and tranquillity of society, extremely de 
fective. A constitution, so contradictory to all the 
principles that govern mankind, could never be 
brought about, but by foreign conquest or native 
usurpation." And, a very celebrated writer calls it, 
" that most iniquitous and absurd form of govern 
ment, by which human nature was so shamefully de 
graded." This system of iniquity, by a strange kind 
of fatality, "though originally formed for an encamp 
ment, and for military purposes only, spread over a 
great part of Europe ; " and, to serve the purposes of 
oppression and tyranny, "was adopted by princes, 
and wrought into their civil constitutions ; " and, 
aided by the canon law, calculated by the Roman 
Pontiff, to exalt himself above all that is called God, 
it prevailed to the almost utter extinction of know 
ledge, virtue, religion, and liberty from that part of 
the earth. But, from the time of the reformation, in 
proportion as knowledge, which then darted its rays 
upon the benighted world, increased, and spread 
among the people, they grew impatient under this 
heavy yoke ; and the most virtuous and sensible 
among them, to whose steadfastness, we, in this dis 
tant age and climate, are greatly indebted, were de 
termined to get rid of it ; and, though they have in a 
great measure subdued its power and influence in 
England, they have never yet totally eradicated its 

Upon these principles, the King claimed an abso 
lute right to, and a perfect estate in, all the lands 
within his dominions ; but, how he came by this 

VOL. II. 28. 

434 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

absolute right and perfect estate, is a mystery which 
we have never seen unravelled, nor is it our business 
or design, at present, to inquire. He granted parts 
or parcels of it to his friends, the great men, and they 
granted lesser parcels to their tenants. All, therefore, 
derived their right and held their lands, upon these 
principles, mediately or immediately of the King ; 
which Mr. Blackstone, however, calls, " in reality, a 
mere fiction of our English tenures." 

By what right, in nature and reason, the Christian 
princes in Europe, claimed the lands of heathen 
people, upon a discovery made by any of their sub 
jects, is equally mysterious. Such, however, was the 
doctrine universally prevailing, when the lands in 
America were discovered ; but, as the people of 
England, upon those principles, held all the lands 
they possessed, by grants from the King, and the 
King had never granted the lands in America to 
them, it is certain they could have no sort of claim to 
them. Upon the principles advanced, the lordship 
and dominion, like that of the lands in England, was 
in the King solely ; and a right from thence accrued 
to him, of disposing such territories, under such 
tenure, and for such services to be performed, as the 
King or Lord thought proper. But how the grantees 
became subjects of England, that is, the supreme 
authority of the Parliament, your Excellency has not 
explained to us. We conceive that upon the feudal 
principles, all power is in the King ; they afford us no 
idea of Parliament. "The Lord was in early times, 
the Legislator and Judge over all his feudatories," 
says Judge Blackstone. By the struggle for liberty 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 435 

in England, from the days of King John, to the 
last happy revolution, the constitution has been grad 
ually changing for the better ; and upon the more 
rational principles, that all men, by nature, are in a 
state of equality in respect of jurisdiction and do 
minion, power in England has been more equally 
divided. And thus, also in America, though we hold 
our lands agreeably to the feudal principles of the 
King ; yet our predecessors wisely took care to enter 
into compact with the King, that power here should 
also be equally divided, agreeable to the original 
fundamental principles of the English constitution, 
declared in.Magna Charta, and other laws and stat 
utes of England, made to confirm them. 

Your Excellency says, " you can by no means con 
cede to us that it is now, or was, when the plantations 
were first granted, the prerogative of the Kings of 
England, to constitute a number of new governments, 
altogether independent of the sovereign authority of 
the English empire." By the feudal principles, upon 
which you say " all the grants which have been made 
of America, are founded, the constitutions of the 
Emperor, have the force of law." If our government 
be considered as merely feudatory, we are subject to 
the King s absolute will, and there is no authority of 
Parliament, as the sovereign authority of the British 
empire. Upon these principles, what could hinder 
the King s constituting a number of independent 
governments in America? That King Charles the I. 
did actually set up a government in this colony, con 
ceding to it powers of making and executing laws, 
without any reservation to the English Parliament, of 

436 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

authority to make future laws binding therein, is a 
fact which your Excellency has not disproved, if you 
have denied it. Nor have you shewn that the Parlia 
ment or nation objected to it ; from whence we have 
inferred that it was an acknowledged right. And we 
cannot conceive, why the King has not the same 
right to alienate and dispose of countries acquired by 
the discovery of his subjects, as he has to u restore, 
upon a treaty of peace, countries which have been 
acquired in war," carried on at the charge of the 
nation; or to "sell and deliver up any part of his 
dominions to a foreign Prince or state, against the 
general sense of the nation;" which is " an act of 
power," or prerogative, which your Excellency allows. 
You tell us, that, "when any new countries are dis 
covered by English subjects, according to the general 
law and usage of nations, they become part of the 
state. The law of nations is, or ought to be, founded 
on the law of reason. It was the saying of Sir 
Edwin Sandis, in the great case of the union of the 
realm of Scotland with England, which is applicable 
to our present purpose, that " there being no prece 
dent for this case in the law, the law is deficient ; and 
the law being deficient, recourse is to be had to cus 
tom ; and custom being insufficient, we must recur to 
natural reason ; " the greatest of all authorities, which, 
he adds, " is the law of nations." The opinions, there 
fore, and determinations of the greatest Sages and 
Judges of the law in the Exchequer Chamber, ought 
not to be considered as decisive or binding, in our 
present controversy with your Excellency, any fur 
ther, than they are consonant to natural reason. If, 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 437 

however, we were to recur to such opinions and de 
terminations, we should find very great authorities in 
our favor, to show, that the statutes of England are 
not binding on those who are not represented in Par 
liament there. The opinion of Lord Coke, that 
Ireland was bound by statutes of England, wherein 
they were named, if compared with his other writ 
ings, appears manifestly to be grounded upon a 
supposition, that Ireland had, by an act of their own, 
in the reign of King John, consented to be thus 
bound ; and, upon any other supposition, this opinion 
would be against reason ; for consent only gives 
human laws their force. We beg leave, upon what 
your Excellency has observed of the colony becom 
ing a part of the state, to subjoin the opinions of 
several learned civilians, as quoted by a very able 
lawyer in this country. " Colonies," says Puffendorf, 
" are settled in different methods ; for, either the 
colony continues a part of the Commonwealth it was 
set out from, or else is obliged to pay a dutiful regard 
to the mother Commonwealth, and to be in readiness 
to defend and vindicate its honor, and so is united by 
a sort of unequal confederacy ; or, lastly, is erected 
into a separate Commonwealth and assumes the 
same rights, with the state it descended from." And, 
King Tullius, as quoted by the same learned author, 
from Grotius, says, " we look upon it to be neither 
truth nor justice, that mother cities, ought, of neces 
sity, and by the law of nature, to rule over the 

Your Excellency has misinterpreted what we have 
said, " that no country, by the common law, was sub- 

438 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

ject to the laws or the Parliament, but the realm of 
England ; " and, are pleased to tell us, " that we have 
expressed ourselves incautiously." We beg leave to 
recite the words of the Judges of England, in the be 
fore mentioned case, to our purpose. " If a King go 
out of England with a company of his servants, alle 
giance remaineth among his subjects and servants, 
although he be out of his realm, whereto his laws are 
confined." We did not mean to say, as your Ex 
cellency would suppose, that " the common law pre 
scribes limits to the extent of the Legislative power," 
though, we shall always affirm it to be true, of the 
law of reason and natural equity. Your Excellency 
thinks, you have made it appear, that the " colony of 
Massachusetts Bay is holden as feudatory of the im 
perial Crown of England ; " and, therefore, you say, 
" to use the words of a very great authority in a 
case, in some respects analogous to it," being feuda 
tory, it necessarily follows, that "it is under the gov 
ernment of the King s laws." Your Excellency has 
not named this authority ; but, we conceive his mean 
ing must be, that being feudatory, it is under the gov 
ernment of the King s laws absolutely ; for, as we 
have before said, the feudal system admits of no idea 
of the authority of Parliament ; and this would have 
been the case of the colony, but for the compact with 
the King in the charter. 

Your Excellency says, that " persons thus holding 
under the Crown of England, remain, or become sub 
jects of England," by which, we suppose your Excel 
lency to mean, subject to the supreme authority of 

1 See above, page 430. 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 439 

Parliament, " to all intents and purposes, as fully, as 
if any of the royal manors, &c. within the realm, had 
been granted to them upon the like tenure." We 
apprehend, with submission, your Excellency is mis 
taken in supposing that our allegiance is due to the 
Crown of England. Every man swears allegiance 
for himself, to his own King, in his natural person. 
" Every subject is presumed by law to be sworn to 
the King, which is to his natural person," says Lord 
Coke. Rep. on Calvin s case. 1 " The allegiance is 
due to his natural body ; " and, he says, " in the reign 
of Edward II. the Spencers, the father and the son, 
to cover the treason hatched in their hearts, invented 
this damnable and damned opinion, that homage and 
oath of allegiance was more by reason of the King s 
Crown, that is, of his politic capacity, than by reason 
of the person of the King ; upon which opinion, they 
inferred execrable and detestable consequents." The 
Judges of England, all but one, in the case of the 
union between Scotland and England, declared, that 
"allegiance followeth the natural person, not the 
politic ; " and, " to prove the allegiance to be tied 
to the body natural of the King, and not to the body 
politic, the Lord Coke cited the phrases of divers 
statutes, mentioning our natural liege Sovereign." 
If, then, the homage and allegiance is not to the 
body politic of the King, then it is not to him as the 
head, or any part of that Legislative authority, which 
your Excellency says, " is equally extensive with the 

1 Rep. i. (1608). Referred to as " the leading case" on the subject as 
recently as 1897. United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 United States 
Reports, 649. 

440 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

authority of the Crown throughout every part of 
the dominion ; " and your Excellency s observations 
thereupon, must fail. The same Judges mention the 
allegiance of a subject to the Kings of England, who 
is out of the reach and extent of the laws of England, 
which is perfectly reconcileable with the principles 
of our ancestors, quoted before from your Excel 
lency s history, but, upon your Excellency s principles, 
appears to us to be an absurdity. The Judges, speak 
ing of a subject, say, " although his birth was out of 
the bounds of the kingdom of England, and out of 
the reach and extent of the laws of England, yet, if 
it were within the allegiance of the King of England, 
&c. Normandy, Aquitain, Gascoign, and other places, 
within the limits of France, and, consequently, out of 
the realm or bounds of the kingdom of England, 
were in subjection to the Kings of England." And 
the Judges say, " Rex et Regnum, be not so rela 
tives, as a King can be King but of one kingdom, 
which clearly holdeth not, but that his kingly power 
extending to divers nations and kingdoms, all owe 
him equal subjection, and are equally born to the 
benefit of his protection ; and, although he is to gov 
ern them by their distinct laws, yet any one of the 
people coming into the other, is to have the benefit 
of the laws, wheresoever he cometh." So they are 
not to be deemed aliens, as your Excellency in your 
speech supposes, in any of the dominions, all which 
accords with the principles our ancestors held. 
" And he is to bear the burden of taxes of the place 
where he cometh, but living in one, or for his liveli 
hood in one, he is not to be taxed in the other, be- 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 441 

cause laws ordain taxes, impositions, and charges, as 
a discipline of subjection, particularized to every par 
ticular nation." Nothing, we think, can be more 
clear to our purpose than this decision of Judges, per 
haps as learned, as ever adorned the English nation, 
or in favor of America, in her present controversy 
with the mother state. 

Your Excellency says, that, by 4< our not distin 
guishing between the Crown of England, and the 
Kings and Queens of England, in their personal or 
natural capacities, we have been led into a fundamen 
tal error." Upon this very distinction we have 
availed ourselves. We have said, that our ancestors 
considered the land, which they took possession of 
in America, as out of the bounds of tne kingdom of 
England, and out of the reach and extent of the laws 
of England ; and, that the King also, even m the act 
of granting the charter, considered the territory as 
not within the realm ; that the King had an absolute 
right in himself to dispose of the lands, and that this 
was not disputed by the nation ; nor could the lands, 
on any solid grounds, be claimed by the nation ; and, 
therefore, our ancestors received the lands, by grant, 
from the King ; and, at the same time, compacted 
with him, and promised him homage and allegiance, 
not in his public or politic, but natural capacity only. 
If it be difficult for us to show how the King ac 
quired a title to this country in his natural capacity, 
or separate from his relation to his subjects, which 
we confess, yet we conceive, it will be equally difficult 
for your Excellency to show how the body politic 
and nation of England acquired it. Our ancestors 

442 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

supposed it was acquired by neither ; and, therefore, 
they declared, as we have before quoted from your 
history, that saving their actual purchase from the 
natives, of the soil, the dominion, the lordship, and 
sovereignty, they had in the sight of God and man, 
no right and title to what they possessed. How 
much clearer then, in natural reason and equity, 
must our title be, who hold estates dearly purchased 
at the expense of our own, as well as our ancestors 
labor, and defended by them with treasure and blood. 
Your Excellency has been pleased to confirm, 
rather than deny or confute, a piece of history, which, 
you say, we took from an anonymous pamphlet, and 
by which you " fear we have been too easily misled." 
It may be gathered from your own declaration, and 
other authorities, besides the anonymous pamphlet, 
that the House of Commons took exception, not at 
the King s having made an absolute grant of the 
territory, but at the claim of an exclusive right to the 
fishery on the banks and sea coast, by virtue of 
the patent. At this you say, " the House of Com 
mons was alarmed, and a bill was brought in for 
allowing a free fishery." And, upon this occasion, 
your Excellency allows, that " one of the Secretaries 
of State declared, that the plantations were not an 
nexed to the Crown, and so were not within the juris 
diction of Parliament." If we should concede to 
what your Excellency supposes might possibly or 
" perhaps," be the case, that the Secretary made this 
declaration, "as his own opinion," the event showed 
that it was the opinion of the King too ; for it is not 
to be accounted for upon any other principle, that he 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 443 

would have denied his royal assent to a bill, formed 
for no other purpose, but to grant his subjects in 
England, the privilege of fishing on the sea coasts in 
America. The account published by Sir Ferdinando 
Gorges himself, of the proceedings of Parliament 
on this occasion, your Excellency thinks, will re 
move all doubt, of the sense of the nation, and of 
the patentees of this patent or charter, in 1620. 
" This narrative," you say, " has all the appearance of 
truth and sincerity," which we do not deny ; and, to 
us, it carries this conviction with it, that " what was 
objected " in Parliament, was the exclusive claim of 
fishing only. His imagining that he had satisfied 
the House, after divers attendances, that the planting 
a colony was of much more consequence than a sim 
ple disorderly course of fishing, is sufficient for our 
conviction. We know that the nation was at that 
time alarmed with apprehensions of monopolies ; and, 
if the patent of New England was presented by the 
two Houses as a grievance, it did not show, as your 
Excellency supposes, " the sense they then had of 
their authority over this new acquired territory," but 
only their sense of the grievance of a monopoly of 
the sea. 

We are happy to hear your Excellency say, that 
" our remarks upon, and construction of the words, 
not repugnant to the laws of England, are much the 
same with those of the Council." It serves to con 
firm us in our opinion, in what we take to be the 
most important matter of difference between your 
Excellency and the two Houses. After saying, that 
the statute of 7th and 8th of William and Mary 

444 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

favors the construction of the words, as intending 
such laws of England as are made more immediately 
to respect us, you tell us, that "the province Agent, 
Mr. Dummer, in his much applauded defence, says, 
that, then a law of the plantations may be said to be 
repugnant to a law made in Great Britain, when it 
flatly contradicts it, so far as the law made there, 
mentions and relates to the plantations." 1 This is 
plain and obvious to common sense, and, therefore, 
cannot be denied. But, if your Excellency would 
read a page or two further in that excellent defence, 2 
you will see that he mentions this as the sense of the 
phrase, as taken from an act of Parliament, rather 
than as the sense he would choose himself to put 
upon it ; and, he expressly designs to show, in vindi 
cation of the charter, that, in that sense of the words, 
there never was a law made in the plantations re 
pugnant to the laws of Great Britain. He gives 
another construction, much more likely to be the 
true intent of the words, namely, " that the patentees 
shall not presume, under color of their particular 
charters, to make any laws inconsistent with the great 
charter, and other laws of England, by which the 
lives, liberties, and properties of Englishmen are 
secured." This is the sense in which our ancestors 
understood the words ; and, therefore, they are un 
willing to conform to the acts of trade, and disre 
garded them till they made provision to give them 
force in the colony, by a law of their own ; saying, 
that " the laws of England did not reach America ; 

1 Jer. Dummer, A Defence of the New England Charters. London, 1721, 
P- 57- * Ibid., pp. 58, 59. *Ibid.i p. 59- 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 445 

and those acts were an invasion of their rights, liber 
ties, and properties," because they were not " repre 
sented in Parliament." The right of being governed 
by laws, which were made by persons, in whose elec 
tion they had a voice, they looked upon as the found 
ation of English liberties. By the compact with the 
King, in the charter, they were to be as free in Amer 
ica, as they would have been if they had remained 
within the realm ; and, therefore, they freely asserted, 
that they " were to be governed by laws made by 
themselves, and by officers chosen by themselves." 
Mr. Dummer says, " it seems reasonable enough to 
think that the Crown," and, he might have added, 
our ancestors, " intended by this injunction to pro 
vide for all its subjects, that they might not be op 
pressed by arbitrary power ; but being still subjects, 
they should be protected by the same mild laws, and 
enjoy the same happy government, as if they con 
tinued within the realm." l And, considering the words 
of the charter in this light, he looks upon them as 
designed to be a fence against oppression and des 
potic power. But the construction which your Ex 
cellency puts upon the words, reduces us to a state of 
vassalage, and exposes us to oppression and despotic 
power, whenever a Parliament shall see fit to make 
laws for that purpose, and put them in execution. 

We flatter ourselves, that, from the large extracts 
we have made from your Excellency s history of the 
colony, it appears evidently, that under both charters, 
it hath been the sense of the people and of the 

1 Jer. Dummer, A Defence of the New England Charters, London, 1721, 
pp. 59, 60. The quotation is abridged. 

446 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

government, that they were not under the jurisdiction 
of Parliament. We pray you again to turn to those 
quotations, and our observations upon them ; and we 
wish to have your Excellency s judicious remarks. 
When we adduced that history, to prove that the 
sentiments of private persons of influence, four or 
five years after the restoration, were very different 
from what your Excellency apprehended them to be, 
when you delivered your speech, you seem to con 
cede to it, by telling us, " it was, as you take it, from 
the principles imbibed in those times of anarchy, 
(preceding the restoration,) that they disputed the 
authority of Parliament ; " but, you add, " the gov 
ernment would not venture to dispute it." We find 
in the same history, 1 a quotation from a letter of Mr. 
Stoughton, dated seventeen years after the restora 
tion, mentioning " the country s not taking notice of 
the acts of navigation, to observe them." And it 
was, as we take it, after that time, that the govern 
ment declared, in a letter to their Agents, that they 
had not submitted to them ; and they ventured to 
" dispute" the jurisdiction, asserting, that they appre 
hended the acts to be an invasion of the rights, liber 
ties, and properties of the subjects of his Majesty in 
the colony, they not being represented in Parliament, 
and that " the laws of England did not reach Amer 
ica." It very little avails in proof, that they conceded 
to the supreme authority of Parliament, their telling 
the Commissioners, " that the act of navigation had 
for some years before, been observed here ; that they 

1 T. Hutchinson, History of the ^ Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol. i., 
P- 3IQ. 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 447 

knew not of its being greatly violated ; and that, such 
laws as appeared to be against it, were repealed." It 
may as truly be said now, that the revenue acts are 
observed by some of the people of this province ; but 
it cannot be said that the government and people of 
this province have conceded, that the Parliament had 
authority to make such acts to be observed here. 
Neither does their declaration to the Commissioners, 
that such laws as appeared to be against the act of 
navigation, were repealed, prove their concession of 
the authority of Parliament, by any means, so much 
as their making provision for giving force to an act 
of Parliament within this province, by a deliberate 
and solemn act or law of their own, proves the 

You tell us, that " the government, four or five 
years before the charter was vacated, more explicitly," 
that is, than by a conversation with the Commis 
sioners, " acknowledged the authority of Parliament, 
and voted, that their Governor should take the oath 
required of him, faithfully to do and perform all mat 
ters and things enjoined him by the acts of trade." 
But does this, may it please your Excellency, show 
their explicit acknowledgment of the authority of 
Parliament ? Does it not rather show directly the 
contrary ? For, what could there be for their vote, 
or authority, to require him to take the oath already 
required of him, by the act of Parliament, unless both 
he, and they, judge that an act of Parliament was not 
of force sufficient to bind him to take such oath ? We 
do not deny, but, on the contrary, are fully persuaded, 
that your Excellency s principles in governments are 

448 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

still of the same with what they appear to be in the 
history ; for, you there say, that " the passing this 
law, plainly shows the wrong sense they had of the 
relation they stood in to England." But we are from 
hence convinced, that your Excellency, when you 
wrote the history, was of our mind in this respect, 
that our ancestors, in passing the law, discovered their 
opinion, that they were without the jurisdiction of 
Parliament ; for it was upon this principle alone, they 
shewed the wrong sense they had in your Excellency s 
opinion, of the relation they stood in to England. 

Your Excellency, in your second speech, conde 
scends to point out to us the acts and doings of the 
General Assembly, which relates to acts of Parlia 
ment, which, you think, " demonstrates that they have 
been acknowledged by the Assembly, or submitted 
to by the people ; " neither of which, in our opinion, 
shows that it was the sense of the nation, and our 
predecessors, when they first took possession of this 
plantation, or colony, by a grant and charter from 
the Crown, that they were to remain subject to the 
supreme authority of the English Parliament. 

Your Excellency seems chiefly to rely upon our 
ancestors, after the revolution, " proclaiming King 
William and Queen Mary, in the room of King James," 
and taking the oaths to them, "the alteration of the 
form of oaths, from time to time," and finally, " the es 
tablishment of the form, which every one of us has com 
plied with, as the charter, in express terms requires, and 
makes our duty." We do not know that it has ever 
been a point in dispute, whether the Kings of Eng 
land were ipso facto Kings in, and over, this colony, 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 449 

or province. The compact was made between King 
Charles the I. his heirs and successors, and the Gov 
ernor and company, their heirs and successors. It is 
easy, upon this principle, to account for the acknowl 
edgment of, and submission to King William and 
Queen Mary, as successors of Charles the I. in the 
room of King James ; besides, it is to be considered, 
that the people in the colony, as well as in England, 
had suffered under the tyrant James, by which, he 
had alike forfeited his right to reign over both. There 
had been a revolution here, as well as in England. 
The eyes of the people here, were upon William and 
Mary ; and the news of their being proclaimed in 
England, was, as your Excellency s history tells us, 
"the most joyful news ever received in New Eng 
land." And, if they were not proclaimed here, "by 
virtue of an act of the colony," it was, as we think 
may be concluded from the tenor of your history, 
with the general or universal consent of the people, 
as apparently, as if " such act had passed." It is con 
sent alone, that makes any human laws binding ; and 
as a learned author observes, a purely voluntary sub 
mission to an act, because it is highly in our favor 
and for our benefit, is in all equity and justice, to be 
deemed as not at all proceeding from the right we in 
clude in the Legislators, that they, thereby obtain an 
authority over us, and that ever hereafter, we must 
obey them of duty. We would observe, that one of 
the first acts of the General Assembly of this province, 
since the present charter, was an act, requiring the 

1 T. Hutchinson, History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay^ vol. i., 
p. 387. 

VOL. II. 29. 

450 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

taking the oaths mentioned in an act of Parliament, 
to which you refer us. For what purpose was this 
act of the Assembly passed, if it was the sense of the 
Legislators that the act of Parliament was in force in 
the province ? And, at the same time, another act 
was made for the establishment of other oaths ne 
cessary to be taken ; both which acts have the royal 
sanction, and are now in force. Your Excellency 
says, that when the colony applied to King William 
for a second charter, they knew the oath the King 
had taken, which was to govern them according to 
the statutes in Parliament, and (which your Excel 
lency here omits,) the laws and customs of the same. 
By the laws and customs of Parliament, the people of 
England freely debate and consent to such statutes 
as are made by themselves, or their chosen Repre 
sentatives. This is a law, or custom, which all man 
kind may justly challenge as their inherent right. 
According to this law, the King has an undoubted 
right to govern us. Your Excellency, upon recollec 
tion, surely will not infer from hence, that it was the 
sense of our predecessors that there was to remain a 
supremacy in the English Parliament, or a full power 
and authority to make laws binding upon us, in all 
cases whatever, in that Parliament where we cannot 
debate and deliberate upon the necessity or expedi 
ency of any law, and, consequently, without our con 
sent ; and, as it may probably happen, destructive of 
the first law of society, the good of the whole. You 
tell us, that " after the assumption of all the powers 
of government, by virtue of the new charter, an act 
passed for the reviving, for a limited time, all the 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 451 

local laws of the Massachusetts Bay and New Ply 
mouth respectively, not repugnant to the laws of 
England. And, at the same session, an act passed 
establishing naval officers, that all undue trading, 
contrary to an act of Parliament, may be prevented." 
Among the acts that were then revived, we may rea 
sonably suppose, was that, whereby provision was 
made to give force to this act of Parliament, in the 
province. The establishment, therefore, of the naval 
officers, was to aid the execution of an act of Parlia 
ment, for the observance of which, within the colony, 
the Assembly had before made provision, after free 
debates, with their own consent, and by their own 

The act of Parliament, passed in I74I, 1 for putting 
an end to several unwarrantable schemes, mentioned 
by your Excellency, was designed for the general 
good ; and, if the validity of it was not disputed, it 
cannot be urged as a concession of the supreme au 
thority, to make laws binding on us in all cases what 
ever. But, if the design of it was for the general 
benefit of the province, it was, in one respect, at least 
greatly complained of, by the persons more immedi 
ately affected by it ; and to remedy the inconvenience, 
the Legislative of this province, passed an act, directly 
militating with it ; which is the strongest evidence, 
that although they may have submitted, sub silent to ^ 
to some acts of Parliament, that they conceived might 
operate for their benefit, they did not conceive them 
selves bound by any of its acts, which, they judged, 
would operate to the injury even of individuals. 

1 14 Geo. II., chap. 37. 

452 THE WRITINGS OF [1773 

Your Excellency has not thought proper, to attempt 
to confute the reasoning of a learned writer on the laws 
of nature and nations, quoted by us, on this occasion, 
to shew that the authority of the Legislature does not 
extend so far as the fundamentals of the constitution. 
We are unhappy in not having your remarks upon the 
reasoning of that great man ; and, until it is confuted, 
we shall remain of the opinion, that the fundamentals 
of the constitution being excepted from the commis 
sion of the Legislators, none of the acts or doings of 
the General Assembly, however deliberate and solemn, 
could avail to change them, if the people have not, in 
very express terms, given them the power to do it ; 
and, that much less ought their acts and doings, how 
ever numerous, which barely refer to acts of Parlia 
ment made expressly to relate to us, to be taken as 
an acknowledgment, that we are subject to the su 
preme authority of Parliament. 

* We shall sum up our own sentiments in the words 
of that learned writer, Mr. Hooker, in his Ecclesias 
tical Policy, as quoted by Mr. Locke. " The lawful 
power of making laws to command whole political 
societies of men, belonging so properly to the same 
entire societies, that for any prince or potentate of 
what kind soever, to exercise the same of himself, 
and not from express commission, immediately and 
personally received from God, is no better than mere 
tyranny. Laws, therefore, they are not, which public 
approbation hath not made so ; for human laws, of 
what kind soever, are available by consent." " Since 
men, naturally, have no full and perfect power to 
command whole politic multitudes of men, therefore, 

1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 453 

utterly without our consent, we could in such sort, be 
at no man s commandment living. And to be com 
manded, we do not consent, when that society, 
whereof we be a party, hath at any time before con 
sented." We think your Excellency has not proved, 
either that the colony is a part of the politic society 
of England, or that it has ever consented that the 
Parliament of England or Great Britain, should make 
laws binding upon us, in all cases, whether made ex 
pressly to refer to us or not. / 

We cannot help, before we conclude, expressing 
our great concern, that your Excellency has thus re 
peatedly, in a manner, insisted upon our free senti 
ments on matters of so delicate a nature and weighty 
importance. ^The question appears to us, to be no 
other, than, whether we are the subjects of absolute 
unlimited power, or of a free government, formed on 
the principles of the English constitution./ If your 
Excellency s doctrine be true, the people of this pro 
vince hold their lands of the Crown and people of 
England ; and their lives, liberties, and properties, 
are at their disposal, and that, even by compact and 
their own consent. They were subject to the King 
as the head alterius populi of another people, in whose 
Legislative they have no voice or interest. They are, 
indeed, said to have a constitution and a Legislative 
of their own ; but your Excellency has explained it into 
a mere phantom ; limited, controled, superseded, and 
nullified, at the will of another. Is this the constitu 
tion which so charmed our ancestors, that, as your 
Excellency has informed us, they kept a day of solemn 
thanksgiving to Almighty God when they received 


it ? And were they men of so little discernment, such 
children in understanding, as to please themselves 
with the imagination, that they were blessed with the 
same rights and liberties which natural born subjects 
in England enjoyed, when, at^ the same time, they 
had fully consented to be ruled and ordered by a 
Legislative, a thousand leagues distant from them, 
which cannot be supposed to be sufficiently ac 
quainted with their circumstances, if concerned for 
their interest, and in which, they cannot be in any 
sense represented ? 


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